Old Decks, New Techs – The Maturing Metagame

Why hello there UG!

tracey sketchitfanpop.comStates/Provincials/Territories are coming up in just a little over a week, and I felt it prudent to discuss the format as a whole coming up. After all a week’s time to prepare should help iron out any Klinks kinks we all might be working on.

More than that, I don’t feel like we’ve been discussing the format as a whole much here on SixPrizes. Granted, that’s because we haven’t had (m)any tournaments in the BLW-PLS format!

But in choosing a deck for SPT’s it’s important to have a view of the metagame as a whole so you can determine what it is you’re looking to accomplish. Plasma Storm has certainly been a very exciting set, with the introduction of cards like Klinklang PLS, EX, Hypnotoxic Laser, etc…

But in testing, the upgraded decks from BLW-BCR aren’t anything to scoff at either. I don’t think any Tier 1 deck has really suffered much as a result of Plasma Storm’s release. So today, we’ll be taking a tour through Tier 1 to see how these decks have adapted or might adapt.

Obviously this is all my personal take on the matter, and there are a lot of people testing a lot of variations on the same decks. So by no means am I professing my word here to be the only way (well… maybe one exception as you’ll see), but in an untested format the best advice I can give you obviously comes solely from my own experience!

So on the plate today I’ll be discussing my takes on the “Big 4” Tier 1 decks that have already proved their mettle in the BLW-BCR metagame. And from there I’ll move on to a couple seemingly Tier 2 decks and finally discuss one of the more promising rogues to come out of the BLW-PLS format.

Table of Contents

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Darkrai

DarkraiEXDarkExplorers63
Why did you stop loving me Crawdaunt?

It’s kind of funny. At the beginning of BLW-BCR, I was all hyped on Hammertime as being the deck with the best overall matchups. No matchup seemed particularly unfavourable.

What’s more, the deck could be teched to deal with whatever metagame you were worried about. And if you wanted, you could just drop the Hammers and find room for all your techs and keep your consistency to boot.

In the end, I dropped Darkrai for , but Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant really pulled through at Regionals.

Right after Regionals I started playing around with Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant and I gotta say I liked it a lot. I feel like the general coverage that Mewtwo and Bouffalant offer is still strong, but “theorymon” really puts a damper on them both. Bouffalant’s Bouffer Ability is one of its greatest strengths, and LaserBank gets around it really easily.

On top of that, LaserBank allows Darkrai to hit Mewtwo for magic numbers one turn earlier, and Landorus/Mewtwo can pile on damage much faster with cards like Landorus and Tornadus. In practice I haven’t found these situations to be too detrimental, but I wonder if that’s a consequence of my lack of tournament-setting testing.

The decks that offer these theorymon problems for Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant are the mirror and Landorus/Mewtwo. But that still leaves RayEels and Blastoise/, who are well checked by Mewtwo/Bouffalant. I’m really not sure which style of build for Darkrai is better this metagame, but I’m leaning Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant over a more pure build.

Here’s my take:

Pokémon – 9

3 Darknessrai-EX

2 Mewtwo-EX

2 Bouffalant DRX

2 Sableye DEX

Trainers – 39

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Bianca

2 Skyla

1 Colress

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Dark Patch

4 Energy Switch

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Ultra Ball

2 Dark Claw

1 Max Potion

1 Scramble Switch

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Darkness

4 Double Colorless

scramble switch plasma storm pls 129pokemon-paradijs.com
Change Places!

The Scramble Switch in the deck is a bit experimental right now. So far I’m rather liking it. Scramble Switch offers you those unique plays your opponent doesn’t expect you to be able to pull off.

Four Energy Switch + Scramble Switch seems a bit overboard to me on energy manipulation, but I’m not one to complain about consistency. Still, another Dark might be appreciated over the 4th Energy Switch to help keep Energy flowing. As the deck is running 4 DCE though, trying for a turn 2 Night Spear is a bit greedy.

The big advantage of Scramble Switch in this deck is to charge up something like a big Mewtwo out of nowhere. With Scramble Switch in the deck, Darkrai/Mewtwo begins to approach the “surprise Mewtwo” capabilities it once had with Shaymin UL.

It’d be really hard to load up a Mewtwo with more than 6 energy out of nowhere, but attaching a DCE, Scramble Switching from a fully loaded Darkrai, and tossing an Energy Switch in there can have Mewtwo hitting for 120 by itself. Not too difficult a feat to accomplish. Add the opposing attacker’s energy and you’re probably swinging for 1HKO. If not, LaserBank can finish the job.

And Scramble Switch is where it all starts.

Not to mention how much better that one Max Potion becomes. And Junk Hunting for a Scramble Switch and Max Potion can really prevent your opponent from having many options.

That all said, I am near equally-comfortable playing a straight Darkrai build thanks to LaserBank. The choice between Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant and straight Darkrai is really a metagame call more than anything.

Straight Darkrai deals with Eelektrik better, while Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant (I feel) does better against Blastoise variants.

If you haven’t felt the same way, then I’d encourage you to look at my Blastoise list later in this article and you might see why I feel this way. If nothing more, throwing a Bouffalant into the mix disrupts the EX exchange, which may be a 7th prize or at least extra turn. And depending on what attacker they have out, it can be pretty disruptive.

As I said, straight Darkrai is definitely worth consideration as well, so here is my list:

Pokémon – 8

4 Darknessrai-EX

3 Sableye DEX

1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

2 Skyla

1 Colress

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Dark Patch

4 Energy Switch

3 Ultra Ball

3 Dark Claw

1 Max Potion/Other Tech

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

12 Darkness

I hope this list doesn’t come as a shock to you. It’s pretty straightforward. Straight Darkrai is a deck with a very clear goal in mind. Hit things hard until they die.

The only major change from my previous lists compared to this list is the lack of Potion.

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Huntin’ more junk than a poacher.

But the metagame really isn’t suited for it anymore. RayEels is still 1HKO’ing as it pleases. Landorus has picked up the same new toy Darkrai did, which negates the effectiveness of Potion. And Blastoise/Keldeo gained 1HKO power which ignores Eviolite anyway.

There is still one Max Potion in the deck to provide you a way of denying prizes against opposing Big Basic decks. But Max Potion is even somewhat situational, and that 1 slot is definitely my “60th card.”

Obviously, the deck is taking advantage of LaserBank. As a result, we see a full 3 Dark Claw which gives you those ideal numbers to hit. 140 HP Stage 2’s and 170 HP EX’s had better cower in fear, because Darkrai got even stronger this format.

One tech inclusion you could make would be one Energy Search over the 12th energy. I feel like the extra Energy is more appropriate though, as when I lack unconditional healing in Darkrai, I find my Energy being stretched thin in games that go the long haul.

I’ve chosen Computer Search for this build, as the name of the game is speed. The 2 Virbank is only 2 and not 3 because in a Virbank mirror, 3 Virbank gives you at least 2 dead cards in your deck. Sure, they can become discard fodder, but so can cards that will be useful regardless of the matchup you’re in.

The only other somewhat-quirky card in this deck might be the 1 Colress. I’ve been slapping at least 1 Colress into all of my decks. Colress is the format’s much-needed shuffle-back Supporter. It comes with early game drawbacks, but is such a strong card to have once you hit turn 3 (or even just turn 2).

You may only have 8 Basics, but you don’t mind dropping most of them as soon as you get them. And very rarely will your opponent not bench at least 2-3 Pokémon quickly.

Blastoise/Keldeo

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Because you couldn’t spend enough building this deck already.

There’s a lot of drama that can come with the declaration of a BDIF, but I’m comfortable saying Blastoise was solidly the BDIF of the BLW-BCR. Blastoise had more wins and Top 4’s than any other deck through Cities, and two Regionals wins to top off the overall strongest showing at Winter Regionals.

There’s been a lot of talk about how LaserBank makes life rough for Blastoise against decks like Darkrai. The numbers certainly add up. Hypnotoxic + Virbank + Dark Claw gives Darkrai the ability to 1HKO a Blastoise, and set up a Keldeo or Mewtwo for KO by snipe. Sure seems rough…

Blastoise is nonetheless my deck of choice this format. After that grave description of the perfect combo to beat Blastoise, that might seem like an odd conclusion to come to. But Darkrai isn’t the only deck to add something from Plasma Storm…

Pokémon – 13

4 Squirtle BCR

4 Blastoise BCR

3 Keldeo-EX

2 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Rare Candy

4 Energy Retrieval

3 Pokémon Catcher

1 Computer Search

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 16

13 Water

3 Lightning

Black Kyurem EX is so vastly superior to Mewtwo EX in this deck I will flat out say “If you’re not using Black Kyurem, you’re doing it wrong.”

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I pity the foo’

When playing Blastoise/Keldeo in BLW-BCR, you often tried to get a field of 2 Blastoise, 2 Keldeo and 2 Mewtwo. If you had a setup like that, you’d rarely lose. The only thing that would hold you back is if your opponent was 1HKO’ing you before you charge up a big enough Keldeo/Mewtwo to return fire.

That’s why RayEels made such an appropriate counter deck to Blastoise. Charging up a EX with 3 Lightning was a much easier response than charging up a Keldeo-EX with 6 Water.

That’s where Black Kyurem EX comes in. Sure, Rayquaza can 1HKO it with only 2 Lightnings discarded, but when all the energy you attach is going to be lost anyway, being able to 1HKO for only 4 energy attached is much easier for Blastoise to accomplish than 6.

Keldeo still serves an important purpose in the deck though. A Keldeo with 6 Waters against RayEels is something they can’t ignore. And if they whiff a turn’s response that’s almost as good as game for the Blastoise player.

That all said, RayEels still has a good matchup against Blastoise, but Black Kyurem EX patches the holes in an otherwise more unfavourable matchup. Not only that, but attaching 3-4 energy in a turn has never been a big problem for Blastoise. The problem has always been to get a full 6 or 7 attached in response.

So against any other deck, be it Darkrai or Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus, Black Kyurem EX makes for an easy out to 1HKO whatever they’re planning. The only stipulation is to make sure you’re KO’ing an EX. With an attack like Black Ballista, it’s easy to run low on energy. So Keldeo-EX is your answer to any non-EX attacker like Bouffalant or Terrakion.

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Go on Black Kyurem, Black Ballista. Make my day.

Black Kyurem EX just slots into the deck so naturally, and contributes so much more than Mewtwo EX, in my opinion there’s really no reason to play Mewtwo in the deck anymore.

We’ve got Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus, Darkrai, RayEels, and Blastoise. Mewtwo does nothing for any of those matchups, other than opening up holes for the opposing decks to exploit (via their own Mewtwo).

The only thing Mewtwo is good for is the mirror, but Black Kyurem EX does that better too! Mewtwo needs a minimum of 3 Energy to KO an opposing Keldeo, and leaves itself a target. Black Kyurem? Kills stuff, doesn’t afraid of nobody. Especially not opposing Mewtwo (something the deck sorely needed).

The only other significant change I’ve made in prepping the deck for BLW-PLS is to run a full 4-0-4 line of Blastoise. With the format so fast, it’s become all the more important to get a quick turn 2 Blastoise. And beyond that, you might need an extra Blastoise to attack with against the Klinklang matchup.

Having a full 4 in the deck makes me feel real comfortable with rough Junipers on turn 1. That extra Blastoise really lifts a weight of your shoulders. It’s the same sort of revelation you come to when you’ve been running 3 Darkrai EX and switch to 4. Prizes don’t matter as much anymore, you run into them easier, and you can still set up more after the first one is up.

One of the reasons I’m still very comfortable using Blastoise/Keldeo against Darkrai in the wake of LaserBank is because of the 4th Blastoise. I’m loving the 4th Blastoise; highly recommended. (The other reason is Black Kyurem EX.)

The last card I’ll talk about is Tool Scrapper. The card is important and one of the only ways to win the Garbodor matchup. But what to take out! I actually do see 3 slots that can easily accommodate a Scrapper. My Tool Scrapper comes from either the 4th Blastoise, or one of the Energies. 2 Lightning really isn’t so bad with 4 Energy Retrieval in the deck, but I’d be more comfortable going with 12 Water, 3 Lightning than vice versa.

And overall… I’d probably be more comfortable with this Energy lineup than with dropping the 4th Blastoise.

RayEels

For this Section, I thought I’d kick things off with an . I got comments from Trevore Read who won Oregon Regionals with RayEels in BLW-BCR. So my questions are in bold italics, and his answers are what follows.

Hi there, Trevore. I just wanted to start off by congratulating you on your Regionals win once again!

Thanks Mark, it’s great to be here in the Underground. I went hard in the paint in Oregon and it worked.

Shall we get down to business?

Rustle my jimmies sir!

What would your deck list be going into the new format?

Pokémon – 14

4 Tynamo NVI 38

4 Eelektrik NVI

3 Rayquaza-EX DRX

1 Ditto BCR

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Victini NVI 15

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

4 Bicycle

3 N

3 Colress

 

4 Level Ball

4 Ultra Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Switch

2 Super Rod

1 Computer Search

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

8 Lightning

5 Fire

Regarding that Pokémon lineup, I notice a few interesting choices. Why the Ditto? Is Victini really superior to Rayquaza DRV? No Raikou?

ditto boundaries crossed bcr 108pokemon-paradijs.com
No one expects… THE DITTO

Ditto is there for a few reasons. One, it’s a Pokémon that is bigger than Tynamo so opponents will usally leave it alone as there are better targets. This lets me bring in a Tynamo safely with Ditto and Transform right into an Eel.

It can also become anything else I need. If I have a Fire in hand and I’m about to Juniper or N with no Rayquaza, I can Level Ball for Ditto and attach to Ditto. Then Transform into Rayquaza after the Supporter or at a later turn.

With Colress you also want more Basics, and Ditto is a neutral Basic that I would almost never mind playing down. This makes it easy to drop for more cards off of Bicycle or Bianca.

What about Victini over Rayquaza?

With Victini it really depends on the meta you think you will face. I personally prefer Victini because it hits for 100 for cheaper and can hit turn two with less investment than Rayquaza. Filling up the bench is easy for this deck with 10 Basics plus 9 search cards.

Victini can and will beat Klinklang, which Rayquaza has a harder time with. Rayquaza DRV will help the RayEels mirror but might not win it. Victini NVI 15 can also help in the mirror killing Eels and Tynamos though.

And with a smaller retreat you don’t mind starting with it. Also, Skyarrow exists.

And no love for Raikou?

I ran Raikou in my Regionals deck. I just feel like, with how fast games have become with Hypnotoxic Laser, the two-shot Raikou allows isn’t really needed. Rayquaza EX will just one-shot them anyway. Raikou does help the mirror, but since everything else in the field has become faster, RayEels has to focus on speed more than the mirror.

So, I see Bicycle in your list. It seems like a lot of people just switch Bicycle and Bianca when they’re testing. So Bicycle vs. Bianca. Thoughts?

Bicycle is there to kind of get an extra turn within your turn. Since this deck is mostly filled with burnable cards, you can manage to drop your hand size down fairly consistently. Bicycle tries to fill your hand with those extra 2-4 cards to get out that extra Tynamo or discard extra Energy and stuff. However, Bianca still gets you more cards.

I just feel that, if RayEels can stream as many cards as possible, it can just outspeed the field instead of going for that Bianca draw. This is more personal preference, but I have so far liked Bicycle a lot more than Bianca in testing.

If you set up, you can put the opponent on a clock of three turns, so I feel the best aproach is just to set up as quickly as possible.

Alright, fair enough. And the rest of the deck seems pretty straightforward. Think you would play RayEels in the new format?

It is one of the plays that I like right now. So far what I like are RayEels and Darkrai/Laser Party. I could really see myself playing it at States so far.

What about Emolga? With the advent of even more Stadiums free retreat might be nice? And there’s always Landorus-EX to consider.

Emolga has just always felt like a dead card to me. It takes up an energy which you want to be attaching to Rayquaza early on. It takes up a bench space which means a lot of the time I’m limited to 3 Eels instead of the four that I strive to get out. Unlike most Pokémon in a deck where I want to drop them, I don’t want to drop Emolga down past turn one to give me more cards on Bicycle, Colress or Bianca.

landorus ex boundaries crossed 89
More than happy to oblige Trevore.

Landorus resistance is nice, but most games I can get out more Tynamos than they can Hammerhead, and they are limited to 4 Catcher. So they have to KO one a turn off the start.

There are Stadium wars, so free retreat is nice. But when I am swapping between Rayquazas after I set up, getting about three Fire for the three turns I need is fairly easy with draw and Super Rod. Assuming I am discarding a Fire to retreat to a Rayquaza on my bench, there are 3 Switch and Keldeo-EX too for those times.

With all the search and having to devote deck space, Emolga does not feel needed.

Anything you’d like to say to the UG readers? “Tell me your password,” for example?

Always willing to accept someone’s password! lol.

“Don’t be afraid to completely change your deck last-minute if you don’t feel comfortable running it for any reason.”

Worked for Jay, didn’t it?

I tested Ho-Oh for two weeks before Regionals and flipped to RayEels because it felt more comfortable at 1 AM before the event.

Seems legit. You had played RayEels through BLW-DRX. Well, thanks for the input Mr. Regionals Champ!

Hey no problem man.

My Take on RayEels

That concludes the interview. Thanks Trevore! I’m not sure I’m sold on Bicycle personally, but I do recognize just how fast the format has gotten. Nonetheless my RayEels build is a bit more traditional.

One thing I have found myself wanting immensely is a Max Potion. With the way that numbers stack up this format, rarely does something actually 1HKO a 170 HP EX. But it is easy for decks like Darkrai and Landorus to leave you one snipe away from KO.

Here’s my current list:

Pokémon – 14

4 Tynamo NVI 38

4 Eelektrik NVI

3 Rayquaza-EX DRX

1 Raikou-EX

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Victini NVI 15

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Bianca

2 Colress

 

4 Level Ball

4 Ultra Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Switch

2 Super Rod

1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

8 Lightning

5 Fire

max-potion-emerging-powers-epo-94pokemon-paradijs.com
This potion belongs to Max.

The problem with Max Potion is that RayEels isn’t really a deck that wants to use Skyla. As such, it may seem like you won’t manage to nab it when you really need it. But in a deck like RayEels, there is rarely a time that comes where you won’t want a Max Potion.

It could just serve the purpose of a Potion to heal snipe damage, but Eelektrik appreciates Max Potion just the same as Keldeo or Rayquaza EX. Rarely does it turn out to be a dead card.

If you were worried about Garbodor, that one Max Potion could easily become a Tool Scrapper though. It’s really about your local metagame. The new LaserBank Landorus/Mewtwo builds are an even worse matchup for Garbodor than before, so it’s really up to whether or not you think Garbodor can survive through the onslaught of LaserBank.

Darkrai decks also got a big boost out of LaserBank, and make for an equally challenging matchup against Garbodor.

Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus

In BLW-BCR, Landorus/Mewtwo pretty much continued the “I’m a Fighting deck, and I beat Darkrai and Eels” pattern that has been going on for the past few formats. I’m not a huge fan of the deck personally, but that doesn’t stop it from being a good deck.

Entering BLW-PLS, I think the only major change people ought to consider is putting more emphasis on Tornadus EX. Thanks to LaserBank, Tornadus has gotten so much better. But I’ll get to that later; here’s my current list:

Pokémon – 9

3 Tornadus-EX DEX

3 Mewtwo-EX

2 Landorus-EX

1 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Bianca

2 Skyla

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Switch

3 Recycle

2 Ultra Ball

1 Energy Switch

1 Escape Rope

1 Max Potion

1 Scramble Switch

 

2 Virbank City Gym

1 Aspertia City Gym

Energy – 13

9 Fighting

4 Double Colorless

If I didn’t already have a girlfriend, I might ask Recycle to go steady with me. It can be incredibly inconsistent, but the reward is just so high that it’s worth the risk. Scramble Switch is just such an amazing card to boot, any time you can maximize its use in a game is worthwhile. Be it setting up a Landorus out of nowhere, or just switching from one Tornadus to the other, Scramble Switch does more than just act like a Gold Potion.

In terms of the momentum of the game, it’s about as devestating as Darkrai/Hydreigon using Max Potion.

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Plus, it’s good for the environment!

The Energy Switch on top of that is to try and keep energy in play for when you need your clutch Scramble Switch. It might just be my habit of playing with Energy acceleration, but I just can’t help but feel the need for energy manipulation in a deck. Otherwise your plays are too telegraphed and your opponent can manipulate your field as they please.

Energy Switch and Scramble Switch along with 3 Recycle helps me feel comfortable playing a deck without Energy acceleration in such a fast format.

I’d rather have 2 Energy Switch but I’ve made my peace thanks to some of the techs I’ve included. Most of the attackers in the deck can attack with one Energy card anyway, so it’s not as though you’re at a loss without acceleration.

But as I said, sufficient Energy manipulation will prevent your opponent from playing around your field to their advantage. Max Potion gets the nod as a tech thanks to the inclusion of Scramble Switch.

The one Aspertia City Gym is there as a way to control the Stadium war. Against an opposing LaserBank deck, having that one Aspertia essentially allows you to prevent your opponent from taking advantage of Virbank City Gym when you can’t take advantage of it yourself. Being a 3rd Stadium, it also does a good deal to help win the Stadium war against a Blastoise deck or Eels deck.

Not that either deck relies on their Stadiums, but quickly shutting down an opposing Tropical Beach can really put a dent in a Blastoise player’s setup. Aspertia, of course, also provides a 3rd Stadium for your Tornadus EX to take advantage of.

Unfortunately, I’ll admit I’m not much of a fan of Landorus/Mewtwo. I feel as a whole the deck lacks versatility and is really just the new-age Quad Terrakion. Obviously much better rounded, and certainly more techable. But nonetheless, the core of the strategy relies on the same sort of metagame-countering that Quad Terrakion did.

And with Mewtwo seeing less and less play, and more energy-efficient attackers being released, Mewtwo just isn’t as powerful a metagame check as it was before. It is still most certainly a very powerful card, just not the undisputed best card in format that it once was.

tornadus ex dark explorers dex 108pokemon-paradijs.com
Tornadus EX? In-genie-ous!

Now… Landorus/Mewtwo/Tornadus on the other hand, I appreciate a bit more. Tornadus EX isn’t particularly versatile, but it is just plain good. It’s fast, deals heavy-enough damage quickly, and resists opposing Landorus.

With the advent of Hypnotoxic Laser, Tornadus’ biggest crutch, its low damage output, has finally been remedied. A Blow Through + Power Blast can finally threaten a 2HKO on any Pokémon in the format.

Before this, Tornadus often left opposing 180 HP EX’s like Darkrai and opposing Landorus free to attack one more turn. That turn put you behind in games past. But the new format offers Tornadus the Items it needed to trade KO’s with the big boys.

Not to mention that a Power Blast + LaserBank can 1HKO 130 HP Pokémon, as well as Bouffalant. Both important numbers to hit. And of course, Tornadus or Mewtwo + LaserBank on the first turn can donk 70 HP Basics, or just apply quick pressure to opposing EX’s.

New Archetypes Worth Discussing

The style of format is quite different from this time last year. HS-on saw an almost complete revamp of the top tier decks when Black & White, Emerging Powers, and Noble Victories were released. The only deck that managed to survive in Tier 1 for any extended period of time was ZekEels.

This year however, in the first couple sets released, we’ve had a fairly stable format since rotating to BLW-on. In BLW-DRX, the decks that did well in HS-DEX continued to do well. Of course, RayEels, MewtwoEels, Darkrai, and Ho-Oh/Fighting/Mewtwo were the noteworthy Tier 1 decks.

BLW-BCR saw the release of Landorus and Blastoise, which resulted in Fighting/Mewtwo diverging from the Ho-Oh build, as well as Blastoise/Keldeo. Though Blastoise was definitely a new archetype, it didn’t really revamp the format much at all.

But the Plasma cards promise to re-define the format a fair bit. Perhaps not anything major until Plasma Freeze is released, but the groundwork for the format-in-waiting is being laid as we speak.

DurantKlang

durant-noble-victories-nvi-83pokemon-paradijs.com
Hey baby, long time no see.

I wrote about this deck last month in my preview of Plasma Storm, and have since taken quite a liking to it. If you’ve been testing against a straight PlasmaKlang-type build, then you know that it’s pretty much the Quad Sigilyph of the new format. It’s strong if your opponent isn’t prepared for it, but can be teched against quite easily.

Victini NVI 15 completely runs through the deck if it’s brought out at the right moment, even if you were to tech something like a Klinklang BLW for Energy manipulation.

That’s where Durant comes in. If your opponent wants to use something like Victini NVI 15, they’ll be forced to spend their resources setting up a full bench.

My results with this deck have been pretty great to be honest. Its toughest matchup is undoubtedly (and ironically) against Cobalion-EX. There’s very little Durant can hope to do against a Cobalion-EX once you hit turn 3.

Rayquaza DRV can also pose serious problems. RayEels also puts a major damper in DurantKlang’s plans. Not only does the deck run at least one attacker that absolutely destroys Durants, but it also runs two Super Rods. Still… the most important matchups to tech against are definitely not the standard PlasmaKlang build, leading to this list:

Pokémon – 9

4 Durant NVI

2 Klink EPO

2 Klinklang PLS

1 Mewtwo-EX

Trainers – 40

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Hugh

 

4 Revive

4 Rare Candy
3 Level Ball
3 Ultra Ball

3 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Switch

2 Escape Rope
2 Pokémon Catcher
1 Town Map

1 Computer Search

 

1 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

10 Metal

1 Double Colorless

The idea behind Mewtwo EX is quite simple really… It 1HKO’s Victini NVI 15 with a DCE, and can combo with Virbank + Hypnotoxic to 1HKO a Blastoise that is trying to KO your Durants by itself. My games with 1 DCE in Blastoise/Keldeo have taught me just how game-changing having access to a tech DCE can be.

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Sigilyph eat your heart out

Comparing this list to the one on my blog, I’ve since sacrificed the 3rd Klink for an extra Hypnotoxic to make the combo more worthwhile. There are a couple reasons for this.

One, it gives you a more consistent Durant start, and by extension also decreases instances where you have a Durant prized. The Klink EPO’s are the superior Klink thanks to their 1 retreat cost, considering the deck doesn’t run Heavy Ball.

The second reason is that against decks with an out to PlasmaKlang, getting a PlasmaKlang out yourself really isn’t a priority. And while running 2 can make you very vulnerable to not being able to get 2 Klinks out at once, your deck doesn’t lose because of it.

As long as you can get a Klink out first turn, you’ve got a good shot at getting a PlasmaKlang on the second turn (or at least another Klink). Prizes are obviously the biggest obstacle, but they’re an obstacle you can’t really do much about. Every Durant player knows how frustrating Prizes can be sometimes.

This is also one of the only decks you’ll ever see Hugh in. I cut 2 Bianca for 2 Hugh, so the sacrifice isn’t too steep. But it has been a while since a good mill deck came along. One where people had to think about how to play against it, and spare their cards accordingly. Hugh will force your opponent to discard cards from their hand, which prevents them from being N’d back in the late game.

Again, if you have any experience against Durant you’ll remember the strategy of “set up an attacker, draw an N, stop playing excess cards until I need to use the N.” Preventing an N that shuffles 4-8 cards back into deck saves Durant 1-2 turns worth of mill. And Durant as a card is a well balanced card, so most games come down to the wire. In these games, Hugh is undoubtedly the MVP.

Essentially, if you’re a former Durant player and you miss the days of HS-NVI, DurantKlang really does hold promise as at least a Tier 2 deck. I strongly recommend testing it out.

And though it actually has a near auto-loss to opposing PlasmaKlang, I do feel it is a much better rounded Plasma Klinklang variant than trying to go for straight up EX immunity + attackers.

One thing I would like to mention is how important attacking with Klinklang can become in some games. Klinklang, acting as a better Sigilyph, can net you a Durant out of your Prize cards (grabbable thanks to Town Map), and can also KO Pokémon like Sableye, who would otherwise try to stall with Pokémon Catcher and Hypnotoxic Laser.

It is most certainly important to recognize when you want to start attaching to Klinklang.

Articuno-EX

articuno ex plasma storm pls 25pokemon-paradijs.com
In Soviet Kanto, bird imprisons you!

Colin has written a bit about Articuno on his blog. I’d have to agree that the Plasma Rush concept really isn’t a top priority for everyone to be testing, but it is important to test the matchup.

What’s more, once Thundurus EX and Deoxys EX come out, Snorlax and Lugia will have much more powerful partners to ally with (though they’ll likely end up the support rather than the ones being supported). Still, there are solid options for a Plasma Rush deck available right now.

Though Giratina and even Moltres-EX could be quite powerful in the deck, both come with crucial weaknesses to Tier 1 archetypes. Articuno-EX is most certainly the most capable Plasma partner.

Pokémon – 10

4 Articuno-EX

4 Lugia-EX

2 Snorlax PLS

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

3 Bianca

3 N

3 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

4 Recycle

3 Colress Machine

3 Ultra Ball

1 Escape Rope

1 Max Potion

1 Scramble Switch

Energy – 14

6 Water

4 Plasma

4 Double Colourless

Recycle is once again a card that facilitates the success of this deck. Recycle gives your deck the ability to use multiple Scramble Switch in a game. It can also give you back a Plasma Energy if you need it, or get Max Potion back if you had to discard it early.

ledian-legends-awakened-la-60pokemon-paradijs.com
Oh hey… Baton Pass. Thanks Adam!

The massive costs of this deck combined with Scramble Switch reminds me of a Baton Pass team in the Video Game. It’s tough to charge up those attacks out of nowhere, but once you get the ball rolling it becomes easy enough to keep it rolling.

Though this deck is capable of utilizing Lugia EX to nab cheap prizes, the strength really does come from Articuno-EX setting up Lugia for KO’s using Blizzard. The combo of 60+120 will finish off opposing EX’s, while the spread damage can put cards like Sableye into KO range for future Blizzards.

Articuno’s greatest strength though, is defeating Darkrai EX decks. Frost Prison absolutely decimates Darkrai decks. Especially when coupled with a Plasma Gale fired off by Lugia to finish the game quickly.

This deck is certainly competitive, but I don’t think it has the stuff to reach Tier 1. Nonetheless an important deck to know about and watch out for coming up to States.

Personally, if I were to play a Basic Rush deck like this, I’d go with a similar build to my Victini-EX rush deck from “The Calm Before the Storm.” I recently answered a question in the forums thread for that article, which updated the prospective deck list slightly.

However, when playing Plasma Rush, I did get rather curious about another Articuno-EX deck I’d played a few games against on PTCGO. Plasma Rush helped me realize just how strong Articuno was. And that led to my testing Articuno/Garbodor.

Pokémon – 11

3 Trubbish NVI

3 Garbodor DRX

3 Articuno-EX

2 Mewtwo-EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Bianca

2 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Rocky Helmet

2 Rescue Scarf

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

1 Colress Machine

1 Scramble Switch

 

1 Plasma Frigate

Energy – 14

7 Water

4 Plasma

3 Double Colorless

I love garbage day!
I love garbage day!

I really had no clue as a starting point for this deck, so this list is just what I’ve been able to come up with. Nonetheless, I’ve found the few games I’ve managed to play with this deck to work pretty well. Though the extreme number of Special Energies admittedly freaks me out a little.

This list really has nothing better to do against PlasmaKlang than to say “GG.” But against Eels, Garbodor still works wonders.

I was very close to including 1 Landorus in the deck in place of an Articuno or Mewtwo, and subbing in Blend WLFM to help bolster the Eels matchup even further. Landorus of course also makes a great inclusion in the deck, and Scramble Switch only increases the genie’s potential in the new metagame. But in the new metagame, I’m more worried about Blastoise/Keldeo and Darkrai, which are both readily handled by Articuno as it is.

Mewtwo is still the power attacker he always has been in this deck. And when your opponent can’t use Abilities to manipulate energy, Mewtwo’s old strength returns. But if you play Garbodor, you already knew all that.

One thing I have been convinced on is Rocky Helmet. I have a friend who plays Garbodor as his only deck, and picked up the utility of Rocky Helmet from him. Rocky Helmet does so much for the deck, it’s amazing.

Rocky Helmet is a way to cheat in Mewtwo wars such that if your opponent KO’s a Garbodor with a Rocky Helmet attached, you can respond Mewtwo (and maybe even put up another Garbodor, making it worthless). Rocky Helmet also helps buff Articuno’s sub-par attack strength, helping Articuno pull off 2HKO’s it would otherwise fail to make.

plasma frigate plasma storm pls 124pokemon-paradijs.com
Row row row your boat…

The Plasma Frigate is solely there to disrupt an opponent’s LaserBank combo. A lot of people wouldn’t expect Garbodor to find room for tech Stadiums, and will play somewhat freely with their Stadiums after they have a Virbank in play. Plasma Frigate prevents your opponent from wearing down on Articuno through LaserBank.

It is also the obvious Stadium of choice for the deck as it can once again give you a massive edge in the Mewtwo war (especially when coupled with an N). Cobalion-EX’s “Steel Bullet” isn’t affected by Weakness, so Plasma Frigate actually doesn’t need to prevent 1HKO’s.

Nonetheless, it will help prevent the buildup of small damage from Righteous Edge.

Crawdaunt’s edit: I took the Escape Rope out of this deck and replaced it with a Colress Machine to act as a Skyla target. There’s definitely not room for a set of Colress Machine, but the one turn of Energy accel should make a big difference in maintaining pressure.

Conclusion

Phew! Well, that wraps up this article. States are now only 9 days away! I’m still fighting for a chance to go to my Provincial Championships on the 23rd, but my job might keep me grounded. Nonetheless I’m testing as if I’m going, which should keep me in good shape heading into Regionals.

If you liked this article, be sure to let me know in the forums thread and Like this article! Also be sure to check out my blog TCG with Hats!

Cheers

Crawdaunt out

Edit: Got the time off work. See everyone at BC Provincials! Look for the Crawdaunt hat. Also, I feed off comments! There’s nothing more interesting to me than to hear other opinions on the same matters!


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