The Good, the Meta, and the Ugly

Poncho_Orange_Islands clint eastwoodBulbapediaHello 6P readers! Today I want to get you thinking about what makes a card/tech good, and to work on spotting the difference between a good card, and a “good in the metagame” card. I think that this can be hard to do, but practicing it will help you learn to forge a better deck.

For the purposes of the article, I’m using the term “meta” to mean the most common decks you will see at a tournament, and not the pool of cards that we have available to us. You can always make the argument “card X would suck if we didn’t have cards Y and Z,” so I would rather evaluate if a card will still work in a tournament where every deck was an unknown!

Let’s take a look at two cards that are serving a similar purpose today: Bouffalant DRX and Sigilyph DRX. Both cards are used as a counter to your opponent’s Pokémon-EX, and both can also be used to “wall” off your opponent from doing much (if any) damage. These cards can both be great, and can be used similarly, however they have some key differences.

Card #1 – Bouffalant DRX

bouffalant-dragons-exalted-drx-110pokemon-paradijs.comOne of the best things about Bouffalant is the ease with which he can fit into any deck, since he uses C Energy. His Ability Bouffer is like a built-in Eviolite, and with 100 HP, he will not be Knocked Out in one hit except from attacks that typically require a lot of Energy.

His attack (for 3 C Energy) will hit for 60 or for 120 against an Pokémon-EX. Bouffalant also has a couple of supporting cards, primarily Eviolite and Aspertia City Gym.

Card #2 – Sigilyph DRX

Sigilyph can fit in to any deck that includes Psychic (or Prism/Blend) Energy, as his attack costs 1 Psychic and 2 C Energy. His Ability Safeguard is very unique, in that it prevents all the effects of an attack, including damage, from any Pokémon-EX.

He has 90 HP, which allows him to be searched for with Level Ball, and his attack hits for 50 plus 10 for each Energy attached to the Defending Pokémon.

I Choose You, ???

This is not an exhaustive evaluation of the two cards, but it is a start. Once we know what we want the card to do, and what each individual card brings to the table, we can decide which will bring the most to our deck.

Being completely blind to the metagame, I would prefer to have Bouffalant in my deck over Sigilyph. The ability to take a hit (with 100 HP and Bouffer, supplemented by Eviolite and ACG), the higher damage potential against EXs, and even the base of 60 damage against the base of 50 damage makes me lean toward the King of the Afro. I deem him “The Good!”

sigilyph-dragons-exalted-drx-52pokemon-paradijs.comWhile he really caught on fire for some Cities tournaments, I think that we will see a lot of people start to work on some sort of response to Sigilyph before Regionals. I would not count him out completely, but people will have time to make deck choices, as well as practice playing against him, to improve their Sigilyph matchup.

We all know that the metagame is not 100% predictable, and I don’t think that it makes sense for Sigilyph to be included in every deck. Therefore, I deem him “The Meta!”

I want to point out that sometimes you DO want to play the “meta” card over the “good” card, particularly if you have a great grasp on the meta. If I knew that the next tournament would be 95% decks that ran primarily EX attackers, then Sigilyph would clearly be the way to go.

Whether or not my personal evaluation of these two cards is correct, the process of considering every single card that you put into your deck is what I want to convey to you! Just because you see a particular card or list that won a tournament, it does not mean that it will earn you the same success, so you should always carefully consider each of your card choices.

Oh right, and I deem this Jigglypuff “The Ugly!”

Tournament Reports

Tracey_watchingBulbapediaYou are welcome to fast forward to the end, but I have included two tournament reports for your reading pleasure! I am sure that some people really enjoy tournament reports, but I also know that standard reports can be boring to a lot of folks. “Oh man, you top decked your Catcher for the win? No way.”

That said, my friends that couldn’t make the tournaments want to hear about them, and it is a lot of fun to write them, so here we go! In an attempt to at least keep things interesting, I’ll throw out some highlights/notes for each match.

The “Critical Point” is where I feel like the game was won or significant board advantage was taken, while the “Interesting Piece” is just something that I felt stuck out, whether it was a misplay, a card choice, or anything else! Here is the list that I ended up taking:

Pokémon – 14

3 Squirtle BCR

1 Wartortle BCR

3 Blastoise BCR

3 Keldeo-EX

2 Bouffalant DRX

2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainers – 32

4 N

4 Professor Juniper

3 Skyla

3 Bianca


4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Energy Retrieval

3 Rare Candy

3 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

1 Super Rod

1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search


1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 14

10 W

4 Double Colorless

Vancouver City Championship 12/30/12

Round 1 vs. RayEels

keldeo ex boundaries crossedCritical Point of the Match: I had 2 Prizes left and he had just taken a Prize, leaving him with 1 Prize remaining. He had a fresh Tornadus EX active, and I promoted a Keldeo-EX with two W Energy.

I Deluged an Energy from my hand, and used Energy Retrieval to Delgue two more, putting the Keldeo at five. I used Professor Juniper, netting myself the last W Energy to get the KO!


Interesting Piece: He played a Victini NVI 14 and used the strategy of Thunder Waving with Tynamo for the first three or four turns of the game. I think this was actually a good call, because I could have started killing Tynamos or Eels as early as the second turn if I had not been Paralyzed.

Victini wasn’t much of a liability on the bench either, because I never wanted to Catcher it over an Eel.

Round 2 vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

Critical Point: I killed four Squirtles. He wasn’t able to get a Blastoise up until I had only 1 Prize remaining.


Interesting Piece: Bouffalant DRX really helped out here, and along with DCE was great against any Stage 2 decks. There is not much to fear while starting with a Bouffalant, and you can start Knocking Out Squirtles or Deinos on turn 2, with or without Deluge!

Round 3 vs. Darkrai EX/Hydreigon

max-potion-emerging-powers-epo-94Critical Point: There was a point when he got a Hydreigon up and active, but only had three Energy on the board and could not draw into the fourth to attack. I put 110 on the Hydreigon, and he retreated for Darkrai to Night Spear.

At this point he had one card in his hand, and I was able to Catcher the Hydreigon to finish it off. He scooped a couple of turns later, and explained that the one card had been Max Potion, but he wanted to save it for the Darkrai! D’oh!


Interesting Piece: I did not get to see much of his deck, but it looked well put together. This was just one of those games that Blastoise/Keldeo gets set up T2 and can’t really be stopped.

Round 4 vs. Fighting-centric Deck

Critical Point: He started with a Groudon EX and ended up with another one on the bench at some point, which meant four easy Prizes for the unicorn!


Interesting Piece: Even with the 1HKOs on two Groudon EXs, he was able to stay in this game primarily because of Terrakion NVI. With the amount of Sigilyph seeming to be on the rise, I imagine that people are going to pick up on just how good of a card Terrakion can be if he fits in to your deck.

Round 5 vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX (LMT)

aspertia-city-gym-boundaries-crossed-127Critical Point: This match was against a really good local player, and while I got stomped, it was still enjoyable! I took a total of zero Prizes, because she piloted her deck really well.

She hounded my Squirtles, and I could not get a Blastoise out until she had taken I think 4 Prizes, and for the next few turns my hand size stayed at 2 (a Blastoise and a Rare Candy, with no benched Squirtles) and I drew into Energies or Energy Retrievals each time! Ouch.


Interesting Piece: She included Aspertia City Gym in her deck, which I think was a great call. It dramatically changed this game, as at one point I had the Energy in hand to hit her active Tornadus EX for 170.

However, she swapped out her Skyarrow Bridge for ACG, leaving me feeling like a big chump. I think it is a great way to surprise your opponent and throw off their math.

Round 6 vs. Blastoise/Keldeo-EX

Critical Point: This was a pretty close game, but I was just not able to draw into the cards I needed at the time I needed, particularly toward the end of the match where if I had hit an Energy I would likely have been able to take my last Prizes, but could not pull it out!


Interesting Piece: I’m not sure that he ran any DCE, and this match made me feel like that would have been the right choice…

The Top Cut

pokeball animefilb.deI was somewhat resigned to not making cut, but I squeaked in on Opponent’s Resistance (yes, I tied with 9th place for my own resistance). There was virtually nothing interesting in my matches here. I won the first round to make it to the Top 4, but ran out of steam and lost there to end up with a 4th place finish!

I had a good idea of the changes I wanted to make, which were primarily a fourth Squirtle, and no DCE or Bouffalant. Bouffalant does afford the deck some protection on the first few turns, and he can put some damage out there as early as T2. However, I felt I would be better served using a fourth Squirtle to protect my set up, and conserving those Energy drops for later in the game!

I spent the week trying to practice with the list, and waited for Saturday to roll around!

Lebanon City Championship 1/5/13

Round 1 vs. Rayeels

Critical Point of the Match: She was never even able to bench a Tynamo… bummer.


Interesting Piece: Kyurem DRV helped here, it was very nice to be able to surprise 1HKO and trade 2 Prizes for 1. I included him (along with 1 P Energy and 1 Energy Search) into the deck for three reasons: Rayquaza matchups, Sigilyph matchups, and because Blizzard acts as a kind of permanent PlusPower.

I think that it is a decent tech, not taking up very much space and helping a lot in specific matchups.

Round 2 vs. Garchomp DRX 90/Altaria DRX

altaria-boundaries-crossed-152Critical Point: This game was a great learning experience, and was my second favorite match of the day! It got to a point where I had 1 Prize left and she had two. She had a Garchomp active with 1 F Energy and no damage, and a Swablu on the bench, with 2 cards in hand.

It was my turn, and I had an active Keldeo-EX with 60 damage and 3 Energy, with a benched Squirtle and a benched Keldeo-EX.

I’m learning that one of the most important things is using your opponent’s Prize count to your advantage. With her at 2 Prizes, if she does manage to kill my Keldeo-EX it is game over. She only had two cards in hand, BUT all that she needed was one Energy and a way to get an Altaria, and she could use Dragonblade for the knockout.

Instead of hitting the Garchomp for 110 this turn and KOing it the next turn, I retreated the damaged Keldeo and sent a sacrificial Squirtle (the best kind of Squirtle) to the Active Spot. I then used Tropical Beach and drew into two Energy and a Catcher. She killed the Squirtle, I sent up Keldeo, attached the Energy, Catchered Emolga and won the game.

To reiterate, her killing the Squirtle meant nothing to the game because of the Prize count, and by retreating the Keldeo I added an additional item (Pokémon Catcher) to the combination of cards she would have needed to take the game from me.


Interesting Piece: This game also helped to remind me of the importance of practice and testing. I think that I had played against this deck maybe once online, and had pretty much counted it out. This put me in a bad spot when it came up at a tournament, as she had two Altaria set up and a couple Prizes taken before I realized that those fluff balls can make things nasty.

Having at least some general knowledge about any likely decks you may encounter, and how your deck can handle them, is extremely important!

Round 3 vs. Empoleon/Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX

empoleon-dark-explorers-dex-29Critical Point: This was the only one of my matches to go to time, and on T1 of time we were tied at 2 Prizes a piece. I had a fresh Keldeo with 6 Energy active, so I Secret Sworded the pants off of his active penguin.

He promoted a Landorus-EX with 2 Energy, attached the third Energy and played a Pokémon Catcher for a Blastoise and used Land’s Judgement.

I had a momentary freak out (did I miscount his Prizes?!?) but when he saw the odd look on my face, he remembered that we go to T3, and I would 1HKO his Landorus-EX for the last 2 Prizes.


Interesting Piece: It is never as much to fun win because of an opponent’s misplay, and I really feel for him! The instant where you think you have won the match, but then realize you actually lost, is gut wrenching!

Round 4 vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX (LMT)

Critical Point: This match went downhill for my opponent pretty quickly. I think he had a fast start and really wanted to take advantage, as he started with a Mewtwo EX, attached DCE, and hit my Keldeo-EX for 40. His next turn, he attached another DCE to Mewtwo and hit for 80! However on the third turn I got my Blastoise up, and I benched a Mewtwo EX, hit heads on Super Scoop Up, and Deluged twice to get the knockout.

On my next turn, I Deluged three more Energy and Catchered up his benched Mewtwo EX for another 2 Prizes. It is tough to come back from that!


Mewtwo_Teleport_AdventuresInteresting Piece: While any given situation could call for something unique, I have found that as a Blastoise/Keldeo/Mewtwo player, you rarely want to be the first person to attach three Energy onto your Mewtwo EX. In this scenario I think it was the right play, because I knew that two of his Mewtwo and two of his DCE were off the board.

That said, there’s been many other times where I have been tempted by a Mewtwo EX on the bench, maybe with one or two Energy, and I think “Okay, I’ve got the Catcher, my own Mewtwo, and 3 (or 4 or 5) Energy. GIVE ME THOSE 2 PrizeS!!!”

However, I need to take a step back and realize that while I am getting 2 Prizes, it is going to be incredibly easy for him to take 2 Prizes right back. He might need another Mewtwo, an Energy and an Energy Switch (or DCE, Dynamotor, etc.), while I am losing a Catcher, a Mewtwo, and 3-5-of my Energy!

Round 5 vs. Empoleon/Dusknoir/Mewtwo EX/Landorus-EX

Critical Point: We were the only two 4-0’s left at this point, so neither of us were taking the match too seriously. I just hounded all of his Piplups and took out any Mewtwo that he started to power up.


Interesting Piece: After an early Ultra Ball, he discovered that all (1 or 2?) of his Dusknoir were Prized, and had to change his strategy. I really love this “Empire” style deck, but a deck with two Stage 2’s in it can prove difficult sometimes.

Top 4 vs. Darkrai EX/Terrakion

blastoise boundaries crossed 31ebay.comThe first and second matches I believe I was able to get Blastoise up on turn two. Once I was confident that he did not run any Mewtwo EX, I pretty much had the green light to create a heavy hitting monster with Keldeo-EX.


Final Round vs. Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX

I was playing against my round 4 opponent, and I knew that this time around would not be easy. It was a very competitive matchup, and my favorite moment of the tournament came when I was able to mount a comeback in Game 1!

My opponent had taken four very quick Prizes, and I had all six of mine remaining, so it was not looking good. Here was my opponent’s field: active Tornadus with 3 Energy and with Aspertia City Gym in play, benched Tornadus with no Energy, Eviolite and 70 damage, Mewtwo EX with no Energy and no damage, with 2 cards in his hand.

Here was my field: active Kyurem DRV with 100 damage, 1 P Energy and 3 W Energy, and a benched Blastoise and a benched Keldeo-EX, no Energy.

In my hand I had a Super Scoop Up, Skyla, Juniper, W Energy, and Energy Retrieval. Many of you might see the obvious play right away, but I did not!

It took me a bit to realize it, but once I did I was feeling like I at least had a chance. Of course, the luck of the roll for SSU was in my favor, which is always game changing.

I realized that if I killed his Tornadus EX I would clear his board of Energy, but also that he only needed 2 Prizes, so I was one KO’d pony away from losing. I had six W Energy in hand (3 from the Scoop, 1 in hand and 2 from Energy Retrieval) however because of Aspertia City Gym I would actually need 7 Energy attached to score the 1HKO.

tropical-beach-black-white-promos-bw28pokemon-paradijs.comI had the Juniper, so it was likely that I could Juniper my hand and hit one more Energy. But if I went that road, he would simply promote Mewtwo, and just need one card (DCE) to win the game.

At this point, the sand cleared out of my head, and I was able to relax, imagining myself sipping on a strong, fruity drink. I decided to use Skyla to grab Tropical Beach and wash away his ACG, putting his Tornadus EX back at a much more reasonable 170 HP. From there, it was smooth sailing!

Corny tropical puns aside, he was in a bad spot at this point. He couldn’t get the DCE and PlusPower combo that he needed for his Mewtwo, which crumpled on my next turn. On his final turn he was able to get another Mewtwo active and a PlusPower, but again could not get his hands on the DCE.

I’m not sure what it is, but for some reason whenever I score a KO with a 6+ Energy Keldeo I just want to shout “M-M-M-MONSTER KILL!!!!!!” That probably wouldn’t be very sportsmanlike though… I went on to lose Game 2 and to win Game 3 (both slightly uneventful) to take the Lebanon City Championship! 7-0!


That’s all that I’ve got for you today, but please let me know anything you liked/disliked about the content or style, as I’d love to hear your thoughts! I hope that you got something out of the article (entertainment, insight, or just something to print off and use as scratch paper), and thank you for the read!

Reader Interactions

5 replies

  1. theo Seeds

    Is there a specific reason you chose Secret Kyurem over Black Kyurem (The one from the theme deck)? I like being able to KO a Ray regardless of Eviolite.

    • Brenton Kirschner  → theo

      I certainly see how that would be nice! Most RayEels players in my meta I have not seen running Eviolite, so I was not too worried about it. Additionally, the 10 spread from Blizzard can really help out later in the game! Thanks for the read.

  2. Tyson Wadeley

    The format of the tournament report was nice. I’ve been geting tired of tournament reports that just list out everything lately, but this cut to the good bits.

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