Hey there SixPrizes! My name is Griff, and this past weekend marked a milestone in my TCG career: attending my first premier tournament (of many to come). Below, you’ll find a fairly detailed description of how my first event went, and what I took out of the tournament! This will be my first article on SixPrizes, and I’m very excited to get the chance to write for such a great community!
Going to school in Victoria, BC, the Vancouver Provincials were a fairly short trip away, so myself, along with Mark Hanson and Max Douglas packed up to make a weekend out of the tourney. Catching a rather late ferry over on Friday night, we may have been somewhat short on sleep come Saturday morning, but sometimes that’s just part of the challenge!
The three of us spent many hours discussing what our strategy was for the interesting metagame that is Vancouver. Upon arriving on the mainland my game plan was to run my go-to deck: Darkrai/Lasers, Mark had Garbodor/Landorus/Mewtwo in hand, and Max with his Lugia list.
While I knew what I wanted to play, I was very torn on what cards I wanted to fill out Darkrai/Lasers with, right up until the morning of the tournament. Flip-flopping between playing Hammers or Victini, I had a lot of decisions to make.
My first option was to run 4 Crushing Hammers and an extra Sableye for added Item recycling. This variant of the list would add consistency (can we call Hammers consistency?) against any deck I saw throughout the day, but only slightly assisting me in the Klinklang matchup.
Considering that Klinklang was indeed my largest fear of the day, this slight tech didn’t leave me feeling comfortable against it. Not to mention that one day prior, I flipped 25/27 tails in play testing (hooray for statistically random numbers).
Victini/Super Rod was my second option, giving me a very favorable matchup when faced with Klinklang, but providing me nothing but discard fodder against any other deck. After much thought and discussion, this tech was what I decided to go with, making room for 1 Victini NVI 15, 2 R Energy, 1 Energy Search, and 1 Super Rod for good measure.
The idea behind it was to shut out the Klinklang matchup early in the game, charging Victini and stopping Klinklang PLS the first, or second turn it gets up. If this strategy fails to pan out, the Super Rod allows for a second win condition through decking the opponent, stalling with multiple Darkrais and Junk Hunting what I need to.
Looking back now, to some extent I regret my decision to go with Victini, as it proved worthless to me in all 7-of my Swiss matchups, but hey, that’s the luck of Swiss. I’m sure that if I had brought Hammers with me for the day, I would have seen 7 Klinklangs and 0-7’d in a fashionable manner. We had predicted a more prominent Klinklang turn out, and responded accordingly. What can ya do!
We arrived at the event venue around the opening for registration, giving us plenty of time to double check our lists, and be sure that our plan was staying firm. Of course, the plan was not staying firm. Mark and I were both very comfortable with our decks, whereas Max was a different story.
With very little time before the closing of registration, Max decided to leave his deck choice up to a dice roll. If he rolled heads, he was playing Lugia, tails he was playing the card for card list of Mark’s. The die tumbled on the table, and finally landed with a 5 facing up. Garbodor it was. I thought it crazy that he was changing his deck on the fly like this, but considering that he 5-2’d with the it, I’d say this was a fairly good choice!
My aforementioned deck which I carried through the day may be found below. No dice were rolled in the deciding of this list.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 40
Energy – 11
My Darkrai/Lasers/Victini list is fairly ordinary, so I won’t spend any time going over the decisions that I made. The two additions which I inserted based on personal preference were 1 Super Rod, and 1 Dowsing Machine over a Computer Search. I heard much grief over the Computer Search decision, but in the end it won me two games, so I’m happy with the choice.
At this point, my list was submitted, and round 1 was about to begin. Doing my best to keep my nerves in check, I walked over to see the posted matchups and my first opponent of the day was Gavin. Quickly asking my group if they were familiar, I heard different variants of “He’s good, be on your game.” Oh good, let’s get things started.
Round 1: Gavin with Big Basics
I began this game with an Active Sableye and a Keldeo on the Bench. I don’t like playing a Keldeo early in the game as it’s just asking to be killed while I charge Darkrais/Sableyes, but I had to play it so that I could Juniper on turn 1. Gavin opened with a single Bouffalant and a Tornadus EPO.
I could not draw into the Energy I needed, so I spent much of the early game trying to stall out the Bouffalant with Catchers and Lasers.
Unfortunately it was not enough, as Gavin matched my efforts drawing all of the needed Switches and swinging at Darkrai with Bouffalant turn 3 for 120 to top of the 60 Poision damage already in place.
The rest of the game continued at a slow paced, playing from behind fashion, with me trying to Laser/Junk Hunt stall until I could get a proper setup. I finally managed to shut down the Bouffalant causing me trouble, but my efforts were in vain as Gavin continued to take another Darkrai, a Sableye, and a third Darkrai to finish the Game 5-0.
Big Basics wasn’t an overly favorable matchup to start the day on, and being a great player, Gavin managed to put the nail in the coffin quickly.
Round 2: Jon with HypnoFox
This game was my closest finish of the day, with very solid play from both sides of the table.
I don’t remember much of the early game, but Jon managed to pull ahead quickly, getting me down to a 5-3 Prize advantage before I was finished my proper setup. Playing smart, and slowly chipping away, I was able to KO a Tornadus EX and some of the Vulpix he was laying down on the field, while he swung back taking my Darkrais and Sableyes.
Eventually, the game came down to the wire at a 1-1 Prize tie, and we actually had a judge come over and tell us that time had been called, giving Jon turn 0. Unfortunately neither of us could draw into the necessary cards after a timely N shutting down a big hand.
With Ninetales active and ready to go, I managed to Catcher-stall a Tornadus EX into the Active slot, giving me some time to try and draw properly. With a Darkrai sitting on the Bench, 10 HP remaining, I had to Rush In my lone benched Keldeo to try and wall for me. Though the Keldeo was fully charged with 3 D Energy, this would not be enough to KO Tornadus EX before the game ended on time.
On my final turn of the game, I drew into a Skyla. This was what I needed to topdeck, whereas Jon needed to topdeck a Switch. I used the Skyla to go into my deck and find my 4th Catcher of the game… but it wasn’t there… I must have looked at my deck incorrectly on the last search, and my 4th and final Catcher was sitting as my lone prize. Ouch.
Luckily for me, my decision to go with a Dowsing Machine paid off. I Skyla’d my Dowsing Machine, used it for a Catcher from the discard, and forced out the Ninetales delivering a Secret Sword for 100 with Weakness, and taking the win 0-1.
This was a very close game, and Jon put up a great fight through the duration of it. I hate to see the game end in “who can topdeck first,” but I suppose that’s just the nature of card games sometimes.
Round 3: Michael with Darkrai
This mirror match began with me benching a Sableye and a Darkrai, with a lone Darkrai on the other side of the table. Basically, this match was entirely based on which one of us could set up first.
Based on this logic I started out with an alright game, out-speeding my opponent completely. I continued cycling Lasers as I was unable to get a Darkrai up and running early unfortunately. Drawing into a great hand I was being set up to use a Bianca for 3 next turn, with a Max Potion, and 2 Energy Switch in hand, getting me ready to charge my benched Darkrai for a turn 3 Night Spear as soon as I could draw into a single Energy.
Unfortunately, Michael was in control of an N and used it immediately following this turn of mine.
I told myself this wouldn’t be the end, and kept positive. Michael was drawing similarly as dead as me at this point, but he was able to get a Dark Clawed Darkrai up and swinging before I could, and this managed to seal the deal for him.
I didn’t draw into a Supporter for 5 turns, at which point Michael took his 6th Prize and that was game. A rather slow one, however my opponent was on the top of his game, and managed to out speed me in a matchup based solely on that.
Round 4: Julian with Darkrai/Lugia
This one was a fun matchup, playing against a deck which I wasn’t familiar with, nor expected to see through the day. Julian was a very friendly player, who I was told has had BC success in the past. Of course, this piece of information worried me, but I kept collected and decided to see what was in store.
The game started out very aggressive from both of us, throwing away Supporters to Juniper like they were nothing, and really just trying to out-speed the other player. I was able to get a Darkrai set up and attacking very early, coupled with Lasers and my single Max Potion helping my crew along.
One of the game’s turning points came when both Julian and I had Sableyes active Junk Hunting back and forth. Unable to draw the necessary cards, Julian was forced to Scramble Switch a single Energy onto his Darkrai to allow a Night Spear. It’s an unfortunate use of his only Scramble Switch, but sometimes there isn’t much choice. I came back at him with a Darkrai for the KO, but he matched that with a kill from his Lugia.
The game came down to us sitting at 1 Prize each, with a Lugia on his bench hanging on with 20 HP, and a Darkrai of mine just leaving the playing field into my discard. I decided to send out my Energy-less Sableye in hopes that I could draw into a save. I managed to topdeck my Dowsing Machine (I was fairly sure it was coming this turn, whether topdecked or through a Supporter), retrieve a Catcher from my discard, and Catcher/Hypnotoxic the Lugia for a KO and the game.
This was a very close one, but I was fairly in control for the majority of it. I ran into trouble through Lugia’s 3-Prize Ability, but managed to squeeze out of the match on top.
Round 5: Jonathan with RayEels
RayEels is a matchup which going into this tournament I felt fairly comfortable with. There was not an overly large representation of them, but Jonathan top cut, so he must have been doing something right!
This game started in my favor, with me placing a Sableye Active, and a single Darkrai to the Bench. Jonathan opened with an Active Tynamo and a Tynamo on the Bench. I took first turn and drew into a Hypnotoxic, D Energy, and Dark Claw, allowing me to KO the Tynamo on T1. Great, this game’s gotta be mine, right? Right? If only there had been one less Tynamo…
Jonathan proceeded to Bench a Victini, Dynamotor onto it, and attach a R Energy, while setting his bench up like crazy, allowing for the swing back with a 1HKO on my Sableye.
The game was up in the air still at this point, so I continued to play cautiously, and felt confident that I was doing alright. This was until I KO’d his Active and he brought out an Emolga, with a bench of 2 Eels, a Rayquaza with 1 Lightning attached, and no Lightning in the discard. Jonathan played a Skyla, and I immediately said to him, “I really hope I’m not following your train of thought.” Unfortunately I was.
He managed to Skyla for a Computer Search, Computer Search away two L Energy, search his deck for a R Energy, attach that per turn, double Dynamotor onto the Rayquaza, and free retreat Emolga, swinging right back at me for 180, and a 1HKO on my unscratched, fully charged Darkrai.
I really should have seen this play coming, but for all I knew a Catcher was also in Jonathan’s possession and it wouldn’t have mattered. My hat was off to Jonathan, as this was a fairly well played return to my KO.
Finishing off my only charged Darkrai, the game was his from here on. I tried to stay in the match, but my efforts did not pull through. I managed to charge another single Darkrai, but that’s not going to do a whole lot for me against a set up RayEels. Jonathan sent a return to my final Night Spear with a Dragon Burst hitting my Darkrai for 360 damage. Ouch.
This was a very well played game on Jonathan’s part, and showed me that the matchup is not heavy enough in my favor to write the deck off. I knew I had to watch out for RayEels, but I did not imagine it could make it out swinging this hard against me.
Round 6: Adam with Garbodor/Landorus
Unfortunately, 5-2 was the bare minimum to top cut in the tournament, as we had calculated earlier in the day, so my shot was at this point gone. I took this fact into my next game, letting my head slip out of it, and kind of just giving away the win.
Adam started out the game with a Trubbish Active and a Trubbish Benched. I had a single Sableye Active on my side, with a Darkrai on the Bench. Adam rolled first turn, but whiffed the attach per turn and passed it off to me. Likewise, I was unable to get anything started, so I used a laserbank combo on T1, and passed it back to my opponent.
From this next turn on, he began setting up Landorus, but was unable to follow through with a Tool attached Garbodor. With a Trubbish in Active Spot, I Catchered out the Benched Landorus and threw a Laserbank combo in its direction. I flipped heads for the sleep, but was met with a timely Switch, and a swing back at my Darkrai.
Things were not looking great, so I fell back onto the Laserbank combo, which I once again hit. Adam managed to get the necessary Switch for a second time in the game, and used a Land’s Judgement for the KO on my Darkrai. By this time, the opposing Bench contained 2 Item-equipped Garbodor along with a charged Landorus, and possibly a second (I can’t quite remember).
As I stated, this game was over before it even began as my head was not fully there. Paired with the unfavourable matchup, I basically handed my opponent the game. This is certainly not to discredit his win, as he played very well, and got the full board set up in rather impressive time.
I expected my head to lose me at least one game through the day, so here it was I suppose.
Round 7: Braeden with Hammertime
Braeden was playing the deck I wanted to bring to the event, so I was curious to see how it played out. I hadn’t gotten a chance to use my Victini yet, so I was telling myself that hammers would have been the right play.
I started the game off with a Sableye active and a Darkrai on the bench, with Braeden only starting a Darkrai. I opened the game with a Dark Clawed Confuse Ray from my Sableye, hitting the Confusion, and passing the turn off.
For the next 3 or so turns, my opponent and I played a Laser war back and forth, though neither of us were able to draw into a Virbank, so it was a slow and painful fight.
Finally, I was able to charge up one of my Darkrai, and Max Potion my other, clearing 90 damage, and double Dark Patching to it for a next turn second Darkrai. Braeden attempted to Hammer off my Energy, but was only succesful on about 40-50% of his flips. I feel that he spent too much time Junk Hunting and going for the flips, which did not pan out for him in the end.
With my two Darkrai up and running, I managed to take a Darkrai, a Keldeo, and then a second Darkrai for game, finishing at 0 prizes to 6.
So, I had made it through my first tournament, and with a reasonable finish that I could feel good about. Dropping significantly below top cut was not something I had hoped to do, but this event allowed me to experience the competitive scene, and learn a lot about how to approach the predicted metagame.
Considering that my group I came over with finished 4 (Trevore Read), 16 (Mark Hanson), and 17 (Max Douglas) in Swiss, I’d say that we had a pretty good grasp on what would be seen in Vancouver. My main reason for not running something like Big Basics or Garbodor came down to my lack of cards, but in future I will hopefully be able to work around this obstacle.
Come Plasma Freeze, I’ll be doing everything in my power to run my WatchLock list, based off of the 4th place deck at the Japan Autumn Battle Carnival. It’s a very fun deck which I’ve toyed with since first hearing of the idea, and I’d love to see it have some success. WatchLock isn’t necessarily the most viable deck to play on the competitive scene, but crazier results have come out of a rogue deck!
While I finished the day fairly happy with Darkrai’s performance, I was somewhat sick of the deck, which brought me to realize I really don’t enjoy playing the deck. It’s at an interesting spot in the metagame, but following the results of Washington States, we knew that Vancouver would be setting out to counter Darkrai and RayEels, and that’s what we saw. Big Basics and Garbodor littered the floor, while I believe one lone Blastoise deck was seen (from people which I spoke with).
Regionals is going to be a whole different story when it comes to the “right play,” and I’m excited to start thinking about it already. As I mentioned, this was just my introduction into the competitive scene, with hopefully increasing success to come!
This was a long one, so if you made it to here, thanks for sticking with me. I didn’t have the greatest results on the day, but I gained a lot of insight into the game, and I hope that I’m able to share some of that with you guys! Whether you’re a beginner, or veteran reading this, I’d like to believe that everyone can take something out of my day in Vancouver.
I had a blast coming over for the tournament with my local club members, and hopefully I’ll be seeing some of you out at regionals, and even worlds when they make their way here in the Summer!
Thanks for reading, until next time!