BulbapediaHello SixPrizes readers! The last time I was able to write we had just been hit by a massive storm… a Plasma Storm. Now here we are, all three weeks of States have flown by and Spring Regionals are this weekend! So much has happened in the three weekends of States and we have a lot to talk about.
In this article I’m going to be trying some new topics and a different approach to my article. Please tell me how you think I did in the forums, and let me know whether you liked this new style.
Table of Contents
(Click to be taken directly to that section and press back on your browser to return here.)
- My Experience with Judging (and What You as a Player Should Know)
- Little-Known Tricks
- Figuring Out the Metagame
- Top Plays for Regionals
My Experience with Judging (and What You as a Player Should Know)
For those of you who didn’t know, I actually spent two out of the three State tournaments I went to judging. I don’t need the Championship Points (as I’ve already earned my Worlds invite), so I took the opportunity to judge.
I have to tell you though, judging was a lot more intensive than I expected. I thought it would be all fun getting to spectate games while earning packs at the end of the day no matter what. Boy, was I wrong!
They had me running around most of the time helping people with decklists, handing out match slips, posting pairing, and all sorts of things. It was much more physically demanding and exhausting than I had ever thought judging would be.
Aside from all the physical aspects of judging, you also have to be on top of your rulings. Giving a ruling that can make or break someone’s tournament is very stressful. Luckily, I never had to do that. Just by observing others, I could tell it was not an easy task to follow through with though. The biggest penalty I had given out was a mere warning for drawing one too many cards off of an N by accident.
I must say you get pretty burnt out after judging, much more so than when you are playing. A big shout out is in order to all the judges out there – thank you very much for what you do! It’s not easy work and we should all thank our judges for donating their time and effort to make these tournaments possible.
Next time you think of a judge as a person who roams around and yells at players, just remember that without them you probably wouldn’t be able to have such awesome events!
Now that I am done rambling about judges, it’s time to tell you why I really brought up the topic. Throughout the course of States I noticed a common trend. Players were getting upset over poor rulings and or felt that a judge was incorrect in some way or another. After a match where someone had lost due to what they thought was a poor ruling the sour grapes stories would ensue.
Then I realized something; they didn’t actually know what rights they have as a player and what they can do in certain situations. Remember, judges are human and sometimes make mistakes. If you ever get put into a situation where you think a judge is giving an incorrect ruling there are things you can do about it.
Here is an excerpt from the official Play! Pokémon General Event Rules:
6.4.1. Appeals to the Head Judge
A player may appeal any ruling made by a judge to the Head Judge of the tournament. Should a player appeal a ruling, the Head Judge must hear from all parties involved, including both players and the judge that issued the original ruling, before making a final ruling. The Head Judge is the final authority on all rulings and tournament rules interpretations for that tournament.
That’s right: if you feel like the Floor Judge is handling your situation is incorrectly, you may appeal it to the Head Judge of the tournament. The way you want to go about appealing a ruling is to ask very politely for an appeal. It won’t help your case if you start cursing and get angry. If anything that will hurt your case, making the ruling not go in your favor, especially if it turns into a “he said, she said” situation.
Always remember to be kind to your judges during an event — your behavior could become relevant one day.
If the Head Judge agrees with the Floor Judge’s ruling, this is where you have to give up and accept it. Starting to argue too much with the Head Judge of an event could get you into trouble. Judges remember troublesome players, and you don’t want to earn a bad reputation.
The most important thing about appealing to the Head Judge is this: don’t be afraid to ask for one if you legitimately think a ruling is incorrect. The Floor Judge will not take it personally and nobody is going to be upset with you for asking. Sometimes incorrect rulings happen; it’s a part of the game. Hopefully this will help you in your future tournaments.
Stifling Slow Play
Another thing I observed while judging is that quite a few games go down to time. One of the worst ways to lose is on time. The amount of times I have heard “Darn, I would have won that game if I had one more turn,” would amaze you. Unfortunately, time is a viable win condition, thus we get the recurring issue of stalling.
If a player is trying to stall against you it might be fairly obvious. All you have to do is pay attention and be aware. If there’s no difficult decision that your opponent has to make, yet they are still thinking for over 30 seconds, they could be stalling for time. I would worry about this especially if you feel your game is approaching the time limit.
The best thing to do in this scenario is to call over a judge and ask them to watch for pace of play. The telltale sign of someone who is stalling would be if their pace of play changes. Someone who was playing at a reasonable pace all game and then suddenly slows down to a halt toward the end where time could determine a win or loss is suspect.
Judges can’t really watch for slow play all of the time, but if you ask them to watch your game I’m sure they would be more than happy to. If your opponent truly is slow playing you, they can receive a penalty or you could get a time extension, which might lead to your victory!
If you ever lose a game on time and you suspected your opponent of slow playing you will really kick yourself in the butt afterward for not speaking up and calling over a judge. Sometimes you just need to stick up for yourself.
However, I would only call over a judge for this in certain situations; sometimes your opponent could legitimately be thinking about something. I usually ask my opponent politely to pick up their pace of play. If they continually slow down and take an unreasonable amount of time for each action this is where I would consider calling a judge. Sometimes your opponent may not realize how slow they are playing and asking them to pick up their pace of play can just solve the issue.
Knowing When to Scoop
The second issue that piqued my interest involving time occurred mostly during Top Cut. There were times when a player had clearly lost game one. They had no outs or ways to come back into the game, but yet they stilled played it out.
I understand that some people want to fight to the end, but sometimes that is a poor strategy. Let’s put in an example of when the correct time to concede game one of Top Cut.
Player A is playing a traditional Plasma Klinklang deck. Player B is playing a Darkrai deck. Player A is able to KO every single Sabeleye player B has in his deck, all while managing to only give up 2 Prizes before he gets his Plasma Klinklang online. Now the only chance player B has of winning is to Knock Out two Pokémon-EX using Hypnotoxic Laser.
Unfortunately, Player B only has two Lasers left in his deck. In order for player B to win, Player A also needs to not play any Switch. Player A has only used one Switch so far this game out of his potential four. Leading up to this point, about 20 minutes have passed.
Player B decides to play out the rest of the game because he is holding on to the very slim chance he has of winning through Laser. Eventually he hits one of his two Lasers, however Player A is able to Switch out of it, effectively sealing the game because there is no longer any way player B can KO two Pokémon-EX.
Unfortunately for player B he does not realize that the game is over and still drags out the game even longer. Now 40 minutes have passed and player A finally wins the game.
Halfway through Game 2 time is called, and Player A is up 2 Prizes. Even though Player A is up on Prizes, Player B is about to make a comeback. He was able to Knock Out a Plasma Klinklang through means of Catcher and Hypnotoxic Laser. Now his opponent’s Pokémon are vulnerable to take a beating from Darkrai EX.
Unfortunately he is unable to make the comeback because of time being called and loses the match. Had player B scooped Game 1 and had more time, he would have been able to win game two and possibly game three!
With the given scenario Player B should have conceded game one once all of his Sabeleye were Knocked Out and his opponent effectively locked him out of taking any more Prizes. This is where many players make mistakes in regard to playing in the Top Cut.
Unfortunately, your best two out of three games are timed, and if Game 1 appears unwinnable it is wise to concede so you have time for the rest of your games. Most best of 3 matches are 60 minutes (although some areas are 75).
Protip: Make sure not to ask how much time you have left during the match. This can result in a game loss.
Time is Called Between Games 2 and 3
The last thing I want to bring up before I move on is a rules question that I was asked countless times while judging in top cut. The question was this, “What happens if time is called in between games two and three?” Well, to answer that I will present you with the official ruling:
If both players have won one game in the match but the starting player for Game 3 has not yet been determined, follow the Single Prize Sudden Death rules as outlined in the Pokémon TCG rulebook, including flipping a coin again to see who goes first. The winner of this Single Prize Sudden Death is the winner of the match.
This means if you are shuffling up for a game three and you feel like time is going to be called at any moment you may want to try to get game three going as soon as possible. Getting N’d to one in sudden death is the worst feeling in the world.
In Jay Hornung’s last article, he had a small section which was titled “The Full Art Dilema.” He talks about full arts and how he thinks they clump together. Just this talk about different card arts got me thinking of a strategy that can be used to help you during the game.
If you have different art on key cards in your deck, you can gain a strategic advantage! Let’s go into another hypothetical situation.
Mix ‘Em Up
Player A and Player B are both playing a Big Basics deck with three Mewtwo. On turn one, player A benches two Mewtwo and has an active Mewtwo to which he attaches a Double Colorless Energy and attacks with. However, Player A used N on turn one. Player B is playing with all different art Mewtwo, and had a full art and normal Mewtwo in opening hand.
Player B draws a new hand with N, and in this new hand he draws a tin promo Mewtwo. He now knows that he can safely enter the Mewtwo wars because none of them are Prized and he didn’t even have to search his deck!
This strategy of different arts can work with many cards due to there being reverse holos, full arts, shiny cards, etc. Most of the key cards people play in decks usually comes in many variations making this technique very viable.
Funny enough, as soon as this came to my mind I sent Adam a message mentioning it to him, and it turns out he was one step ahead of me! Adam had just posted this on Jay Hornung’s last article discussion thread:
I really liked the tip about Full Arts. I would extend that to holos of any type – I think it’s best to play as many plain cards as possible, unless you want to pimp out your whole deck, then I guess it’s ok.
One other related tip to go along with this: play as many different versions of reprint Trainers as you can. It makes it so much easier to keep track of what’s in your deck and what’s Prized. It’s way easier to remember when the artwork is different. So Switch, for example, if you play 4, use 1-of each of your favorite artwork: http://pkmncards.com/?s=name:switch&display=scan&sort=date
One scenario where you can see immediate benefit from this is if you’re N’d before you are able to search your deck. Maybe your opening hand has a Switch in it. You get N’d, and draw into a different artwork Switch. Now you know there are at least 2 Switches in your deck, which you couldn’t have known unless you played the different versions.
If you want to give yourself the best opportunity to win, you need to use as many of these little hacks as you can to your advantage.
For those of you who don’t take full advantage of being an Underground member and don’t use the forums you may want to reconsider. Sometimes you find good content on there!
If you find that you won’t be taking full advantage of this, there are other ways to make your full arts useful. You can play all of your important Pokémon-EX or tech cards in their full art version (if they have one) to help easily determine what is prized during your first search. If all of your Mewtwo EX is one of the only full art cards in your deck, it will be very easy to distinguish them from other cards in a timely manner during your first search.
During your first search of the game you should always try to figure out what is Prized so you know what you have access to. I have seen people lose games too many times due to not knowing what is Prized and realizing too late.
If you make Top Cut on day 1, your Poké-venture won’t be over after Swiss. You will be given the information of who you will be playing the next day once the standings go up, and you should do your best to find out what that person is playing.
First things first, I am going to show you how to figure out who you are playing. It’s very simple. Your top 32 opponent will be whoever is as many places away from last as you are from first. That being said, 1st plays 32nd, 2nd plays 31st, 3rd plays 30th, etc.
Here is what a top 32 bracket will look like:
Once you know who you are playing on day two, I would immediately try to figure out what they are playing. Also, if you can figure out any hot techs, important cards, and whatnot that person is playing is helpful too.
If you know that your opponent is playing Blastoise and is going first, with no way to donk you, you can feel safe starting lone Tynamo and not benching or starting that Victini-EX in your hand that could lose you the game by simply being on the field.
Figuring Out the Metagame
We have talked about things you need to know to prepare yourself for the big day and ways to squeeze out every advantage possible. Now it’s time to talk about the most important part of Regionals: What’s the play?
SixPrizes Underground writer Mark Hanson, or Crawdaunt, was kind enough to create a thread on PokéGym.net where he compiles all the decks that won States. Looking at the list of what won we can see that Big Basics is the deck that has won the most, with 10 States wins.
Following that we have Darkrai at 8 wins, RayEels and Blastoise at 5 wins, PlasmaKlang and Garbodor at 4 wins, and a Hydreigon with 1 win. The top two and top four results project the same trends as the winning decks as well.
With this information, I would definitely choose a deck that can compete with the top four decks of Big Basics, Darkrai, Blastoise, and RayEels. If Nationals were tomorrow, I would expect the general metagame to be what is shown here. However, this weekend is Regionals, not Nationals, so we may want to take a step of analyzing the data even further. What I am saying is that Regionals metas are just that: regional.
To help determine what your metagame will be like we can try something new. The Top Cut was able to gather an even more in depth look into what won States here. With this information we are able to take our predictions on the metagame a step further.
What I would do is figure out what the numbers of all the decks that top 4’d in the States that you think will be attending your Regionals. This lets you get a closer look into your more local metagame.
Here is what that looks like for the Regionals that is going to be at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. I will take what top 4’d from these states: Massachusetts (not listed on The Top Cut for some reason but I judged that one), New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, Quebec, and Pennsylvania.
I am using these states to determine the metagame for this Regional because they are the states that I expect to most likely be traveling there. If you are from California you’re probably not going to be traveling to the east coast to affect the metagame there.
This sample metagame may not be 100% accurate either because people change decks, travel plans, etc. But it should closely represent what you will see.
Top 4 Deck Placements from States Expected to Attend New England
- Big Basics – 16
- Darkrai – 5
- Blastoise – 4
- RayEels – 4
- Garbodor – 2
- Klinklang – 1
Using this information we can clearly see the Big Basics has been dominating the New England area by far. Big Basics should be the deck with a target on its back for anyone playing in this Regional. You should expect to play numerous Big Basic decks with the amount of success it had in this area. As you can see, Big Basics had been keeping Darkrai, RayEels, and Garbodor at bay.
In this metagame, I would be wary of playing Garbodor here due to its poor Big Basics matchup. The one thing that should catch your eye is the fact that Klinklang only has one top 4 throughout all three States. This means that the metagame here was probably lacking of Klinklang, possibly the hardest matchup for Big Basics.
With this in mind I expect Klinklang to be a very strong play in New England, especially since the environment is so hostile toward Klinklang’s worse matchups, like Garbodor and RayEels. As for going with decks like Darkrai and Blastoise, you better make sure you are able to beat Big Basics because it will be in your face all day.
Top Plays for Regionals
Now that I have showed you how to get a better understanding of what your metagame may look like, I want to talk about some of the deck choices you could make this weekend. I will be spamming you with my inventory of personal decklists and giving a brief description on each deck.
If I were to play this weekend I would most likely play Klinklang because it has good matchups against all the best decks in my area, which is New England. Here is the list I would play:
Pokémon – 13
4 Klink DEX
Trainers – 37
4 Rare Candy
2 Exp. Share
Energy – 10
I’m not going to go into detail about Klinklang because there was already a whole article dedicated to it released this week. I will just leave you with my list so you can see my take on the deck.
Previously I had thought Klinklang was Tier 2, and some may still consider it that, but I have now realized the power behind this deck.
It is a very strong play if it’s put into the right metagame and people are unprepared for it. I would not play it if you are expecting to see a ton of Garbodor, RayEels, or Blastoise decks that are tuned to take down Klinklang.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 40
Energy – 12
This deck has by far seen the most success during the State Championships, and for good reason. It is easily the most consistent deck. All you need is a Landorus and a F Energy and you’re good to go. This deck has been talked about a ton lately, which it deserved to be. This is possibly the safest play for Regionals as it has decent matchups across the board, excluding Klinklang.
If you are expecting to play against mirror matches all day I would consider possibly adding in a second Tornadus to help fight Landorus. In addition to this I would cut down on Exp. Share and Energy Switch and add a couple of Eviolite. Eviolite is very good at mitigating Landorus’ Hammerhead damage.
The Supporter lineup I chose is a bit unorthodox, and I can never decide whether I like Bianca or Cheren more so I decided on a split. As for the one Skyla, I like to have another way to find that last Catcher I need for the game, or a clutch Scramble Switch when I need it. So far this deck has tested extremely well and is going to be a huge contender at Regionals.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 32
Energy – 15
The once dominant turtle’s shell no longer appears to be invincible. It seems Blastoise has been dethroned throughout States and has given up his crown of top deck to Big Basics. Even with Landorus-EX being weak to Water the deck can still go toe-to-toe with Blastoise thanks to Mewtwo and Bouffalant.
This list is pretty standard right now and has been testing well. I am a huge fan of Heavy Ball because you now have two major targets for it (Blastoise and Black Kyurem EX). I’m considering running a third Tropical Beach to help keep Virbank City Gym off the field, but finding room in this deck is near impossible.
Black Kyurem BCR has made itself a standard card lately in most Blastoise decks. I use this card to help in the mirror, against RayEels, and against Klinklang. Overall this deck has good matchups against everything besides RayEels, potentially Klinklang, and Garbodor. If you are expecting to see very little Garbodor and RayEels then Blastoise is definitely not a bad play.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 41
Energy – 11
Speed Darkrai variants will always be a decent play for Regionals. They are consistent and a turn two Night Spear is always incredibly powerful.
Sometimes it can be hard to keep up with Big Basics if they are able to heal damage and negate your Night Spear all while Hammerheading away at your Darkrai EX. If they have Laser Virbank as well, then that means your Darkrai will fall in two hits which can be crippling.
I find that Speed Darkrai has about an even matchup versus most decks if you can get a turn two Nightspear. Against decks like RayEels and Blastoise, if they manage to set up and you have not established a decent lead they seem to make comebacks quickly by 1-shotting your Darkrai EX. Klinklang is an awkward matchup. If they set up you will probably lose. Once all of your Sabeleye get Knocked Out there is nothing you can do.
As for the card choices in this deck, everything is pretty standard here. The only thing that may interest you is why I picked Dowsing Machine over Computer Search. Ever since I watched Michael and Frank Diaz take States by storm with it, I have started testing it. So far it has been amazing and I like the change a lot. Being able to conserve resources is always nice as well.
You can see the power of Dowsing Machine when you watch Michael and Frank play here.
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 38
Energy – 12
Here we have a personal favorite of mine, Darkrai/Mewtwo/Bouffalant. I was able to get top four at Maine with this deck and it has been doing well against the metagame. Playing this version of Darkrai takes away the emphasis on turn two Night Spear and only using Darkrai as a main attacker. This opens up a more toolbox type of deck where you have a few different options on what you want to attack with each turn.
I have opted to go with Computer Search in here over Dowsing Machine because Computer Search can find my Double Colorless Energy when I need them.
Is this version of Darkrai better than Speed Darkrai? I’m not sure. To be honest I think it is personal preference and both decks are strong. With this deck you have a more winnable Klinklang matchup thanks to Bouffalant, and everything else has been about 50/50.
Pokémon – 15
4 Eelektrik NVI 40
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
This is the RayEels list I have been testing with recently and it seems to be a hit or miss deck. If I can manage to set up by turn three and start Dragon Bursting everything I usually will win that game. Sometimes you hiccup during the setup phase and just get rolled by Landorus, Darkrai, or other fast decks. Consistency is key so I would recommend keeping the ball counts high to aid in setting up your Eels as quickly as possible.
The only changes I would make to this deck are metagame dependent. If you are expecting a ton of Bouffalant and Tornadus EX I would change the one of Shiny Rayquaza to a Zekrom BLW.
Zekrom’s Bolt Strike is incredibly efficient at dealing with those otherwise troublesome threats. If you are facing a lot of Black Kyurem EX and mirror match I would keep in the Shiny Rayquaza and consider cutting Victini.
Vicitni EX and Tool Scrapper are here for the Garbodor matchup. This matchup is nearly impossible once they get a Garbodor out if you do not play these cards. Victini-EX is used to set up your attackers without the use of Dynamotor. Although 110 HP is minute for an EX, the Garbodor decks have a hard time KOing it in one or two attacks.
Recently Pokémon.com did an article where they gave away Tyler Ninomura’s State winning decklist. My list is still the same as the one I had in my previous article because I have not messed around with Garbodor lately. Given the right metagame, Garbodor can still be a good option for Regionals so you should be testing against a good list.
If you have not seen Tyler’s list, here it is:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
One of the easiest matchups for Garbodor would probably be Blastoise/Keldeo. Occasionally Blastoise decks will somehow manage to steal a win by Knocking Out a Garbodor, relieving themselves of Ability lock. With Giant Cape that becomes much harder to do.
Secret Sword for 3 Energy only does 110 damage, and with Giant Cape on Garbodor that is no longer a knockout! A Dark Clawed Darkrai EX also only does 110 damage, so it forces them to have use Hypnotoxic Laser in order to KO your Garbodor.
Aside from Giant Cape, every other card in this list is fairly self-explanatory and standard.
Looking at this format as a whole there are a lot of viable decks to play going into Regionals. The ones I have shown you are all the decks I would consider playing, and the ones that I think will do the best.
I am not sure that there is a correct play due to the rock-papers-scissors feel that this format has. A lot of matchups seem to be 50/50 and it comes down to Laser flips or the luck of the draw. Every deck appears to have a weakness that can be exploited. If you play a solid deck, play well, and stay focused you could just see yourself walk home with a trophy this weekend!
Since I already have my invite to Worlds, I have been given the opportunity to commentate during the live stream of the New England Regional. I personally can’t wait and I hope many of you tune in if you aren’t able to make it to a regional event.
I wish everyone the best of luck and I hope this article has helped you. Let me know what you think in the forums and thanks again.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.
Leave a Reply