Not What You’d Expect

Ghet on with the new format already!

It’s already the middle of April and States and Regionals are in the past. Many of us (myself included) are ready to put this format in the rearview mirror and start looking forward to the format for Nationals and Worlds (which I hope to be a much more skill based format).

A large portion of this article is going to focus on the new set and the new meta. I hate set reviews so instead I’m only going to discuss a few key cards and how I feel they impact our meta. I’m also going to discuss some older cards that I feel get considerably better with new set, so it would probably be a good idea to make sure to have a playset of them.

Lastly, I’m going to discuss what I feel is going to be major decks in the new format along with my own list for each of them. I feel many of my lists are still rough, but I’m happy with the direction they’re heading.

Despite wanting to keep this article mainly focused on the new set and new meta, I do want to briefly recap my experiences at both Iowa States and Wisconsin Regionals. I played what I felt was a very unique Darkrai list for the 3rd week of States, and the list went against a lot of things I was used to with deck building. It got me thinking outside the box a bit more and hopefully got me to not instantly write a deck off as being bad if it looks less than standard.

For Regionals I played a deck I never thought I would ever consider playing and walked away with a solid finish.

Table of Contents

Iowa States
Hello from Iowa.

I played Big Basics the first few weeks of States, but wanted to switch things up heading into Iowa. Usually Iowa is where we see players heavily try to metagame against one another. Many of the better Iowa players knew a majority of the cards in my Big Basics deck, which meant they also knew I had a near auto-loss to Klinklang.

In my mind this made playing Big Basics again far too risky without heavily teching for Klinklang, which I felt would then kill my consistency in other matchups.

It’s no surprise that I’ve always liked Darkrai, but I couldn’t find a list that clicked with me in this current format. Mainly on a whim I built this – it’s only a few cards off from a list that was posted in a public 6P article a few weeks ago. You can check out the original here.

Pokémon – 8

4 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 43

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
2 Skyla
2 Random Receiver


4 Bicycle
4 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Dark Patch
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Crushing Hammer
2 Energy Search
2 Energy Switch
2 Dark Claw
1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 9

9 D

I changed a few cards around from the original idea before I even played a game. On paper this honestly looks to be one of the worst Darkrai lists I’ve ever seen. Originally I built the deck wanting to use it as a starting point with the plans to make major changes to the list. However, after a few games I realized the list was pretty close to what I wanted and I only made minor adjustments from the original.

I don’t really want to take the time to break down the whole deck because I feel Jerome did an amazing job of doing this on his own (so check out his article). However, I do want to take a moment to discuss Bicycle.

“I like to ride my bicycle…”

Until I actually played this deck I never quite realized just how strong Bicycle was. In most games with Bicycle I was burning through a majority of my deck by T3/T4. I felt like I was playing Speed Kingdra from the ’09 season. While I loved Bicycle in this variation of Darkrai, I wouldn’t play it in any other deck and even after my win I’m not 100% sure I love a full 4 copies in Darkrai.

When playing such a high count of the card you really have to build the entire deck around Bicycle. This forced me to play fewer copies of other key cards like Energy Switch. While I don’t feel like this ever caused me to lose a game, there were plenty games where I did miss having extra copies of Energy Switch, Max Potion, Catcher, etc.

Looking back I think Pooka might have had the right idea of only playing a single tech copy of Bicycle in his Darkrai build.

Here are some of my observations of the list after the tournament.

The Good

  • Burns through deck quickly (higher chance at T2 Darkrai, lower chance of bad N’s late game).
  • Stronger early game Junk Hunts.
  • Flows more smoothly.

The Bad

  • Decking out became an issue in several games.
  • Energy count was too low (I would not play less than 10 in the future).
  • 3 N was not enough (I would play 4 in the future).
  • I ran out of Supporters a few times.
  • A lot of coin flips.
  • No real tricks/attack options outside of Night Spear and Laser.

Match Summary

Round 1 – Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Garbodor – L
Round 2 – Darkrai EXW
Round 3 – Landorus-EXW
Round 4 – Blastoise – W
Round 5 – Darkrai/Mewtwo – W
Round 6 – Darkrai EXL

I finish Swiss at 4-2 and barely made top cut at 8th seed. My little brother narrowly missed cut at 9th seed, which was too bad since if our resistances were a little better we might have been going in at 7th and 8th seed which could have set up a really nice finals for us.

Top 8 – Big Basics – WW
Top 4 – Klinklang – WLW
Top 2 – Big Basics – WW

I got insanely lucky in Top 2 and won a match that should have been much harder for me than what it ended up being. I hit just about every coin flip I could with Lasers and Hammers and my opponent missed quite a few sleep flips.

Wisconsin Regionals
Hello from Wisconsin.

Thursday afternoon Sam Chen throws the idea of Klinklang at me. It was something I was tossing around, but couldn’t really settle on a list I felt good about. Below is the list I ended up running which differed from Sam’s a bit.

The two biggest things I stole from him were 2 Pokémon Catcher and the 3 Tropical Beach. I had 3 Beach originally, then dropped it down to 2 and then Sam convinced me back up to 3 was the right call.

Pokémon – 13

4 Klink DEX
3 Klinklang PLS
1 Klinklang BLW
2 Cobalion-EX
1 Registeel-EX
1 Cobalion NVI
1 Durant DRX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 Skyla
3 N
2 Colress


4 Rare Candy
4 Heavy Ball
3 Switch
2 Ultra Ball
2 Pokémon Catcher
2 Max Potion
1 Escape Rope
1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

11 M

Most of this list was theorized on the drive up to Regionals and I think I played 2 games total with it beforehand. However, I feel like after playing this deck at Regionals I could write a good portion of an article alone on building and playing Klinklang. The deck is far more complex than it looks on paper.

However, to keep this article more focused on upcoming sets I’ll give more a condensed deck explanation. I’d be more than happy to go into more detail on the forums or perhaps in a future article if the interest exists.

Why I Played Klinklang

klinklang plasma storm pls
Rivaling the Steelers’ “Steel Curtain” defense.

All throughout States I hated the deck since I felt there was no skill to it (I was partially wrong on this) and it had too many auto-losses in the field. However, as we started to get closer to Regionals I expected a meta far more focused on Big Basics and Darkrai.

I hoped both of these decks would decrease the amount of Garbodor (because of its horrid Bad Basics matchup) and RayEels (for fear of getting donked/having a hard Darkrai matchup). At the very least I figured the larger amounts of Big Basics and Darkrai decks would increase my odds of not seeing RayEels or Garbodor in the later rounds of the tournament.

My other option was Darkrai which I felt had slightly favorable mirror, RayEels, and Garbodor matchups, slightly unfavorable Big Basics and Blastoise matchups, and a near auto-loss to Klinklang. I figured playing Darkrai I’d probably take 1 or 2 losses to Klinklang in Swiss and didn’t want the pressure of having to win all my 50/50 matchups the rest of the way.

Klinklang on the other hand had a near auto-win against Darkrai and Big Basics, even mirror and Blastoise matchups, and auto-losses to Garbodor and RayEels. I decided it would be better for me to have auto-wins against the biggest 2 decks in the format and even matchups with the next 2. This left my 2 auto-losses to be what I felt would be the least played tier 1 decks at Regionals.

I decided I would rather have auto-wins all day and just hope to not play against more than 2-of my auto-losses. In my head the probabilities worked out better.

Of course with my mind shifting to Klinklang I had to read Mark’s latest UG article to see if I thought it would have any last minute shifts on the metagame.

After reading the article, Mark’s thoughts were very similar to mine at States and he discussed many of the same counters I was using and to be honest he was using better and harder counters than I was to beat Klinklang. This reassured me that I was on the right path as far as what I should watch out for when playing against these matchups.

The problem with the counters is they are fine if you’re playing against average players or PokéMoms and Dads with Klinklang. The problem is they just don’t work against people that know what they are doing. If you’re playing against a good Klinklang player you’re never going to lock a Virbank in. It’s near impossible to Hammer Lock them with Darkrai.

In Big Basics, Tornadus EPO and Bouffalant DRX are weaker attackers than Cobalion NVI and Cobalion-EX. Even if you play V-create Victini in Darkrai or Big Basics it’s too hard to set up early and they can easily deal with 1 random Victini by the time you get it out.

After playing the deck this weekend I can say without a doubt in my mind these soft counters to Klinklang don’t work. You either tech hard for Klinklang and hurt your consistency in other matchups or don’t bother to tech at all and simply take the auto-loss and devote more of your tech spots to winning other matchups.

Card Explanations

1 Durant
Up to some new antics.

By far the MVP of the deck, it saved me all day. Being able to use Pull Out to get back any card in your discard made it near impossible to ever be decked or ran out of Energy. Durant was extremely versatile and gave me a ton of options.

1 Registeel-EX

I added this card because I felt that Klinklang was too linear and Registeel would give me more attack options and could help me create some interesting situations against decks.

It really only helped me in the 1 Eels matchup which should be an auto-loss anyway and I just caught more lucky breaks than I should have. In theory it also would have been a great tech against Blastoise, helping to set up a Cobalion-EX sweep. In hindsight I should have just ran the 3rd Cobalion-EX.

2 Pokémon Catcher

The deck really doesn’t even need Pokémon Catcher until the middle of the game. It’s nice in situations where you need to drag up a Bouffalant they’re building up on the bench or to try and drag something up to stall. The deck really doesn’t try to steal cheap Prizes or anything so 2 copies played just fine.

2 Max Potion

I felt like 2 was a very low count for the Max Potion and really wanted a 3rd. In the end I never felt comfortable cutting anything for it. In hindsight I would have tested a 2-2 Klinklang with 3-4 Max Potion. It would have brought down consistency slightly, but would have been stronger in matchups like Blastoise and Klinklang mirror where they really hit you in return even once your set up.

No Tool Scrapper

I theorized that between Tool Scrapper, Durant, Super Rod, and Dowsing Machine that I could play Tool Scrapper 4 times! Most Garbodor decks run only 5-6 Tools. In theory if I played my cards correctly I could run Garbodor out of Tools and actually “lock” them. Sam told me this sounded much better in theory and unlikely to happen in a tournament setting. I agreed with him and felt I would need things to go picture perfect to win in such a manner.

Without testing this idea I decided not to run 1 Tool Scrapper for a matchup I’d probably lose anyway and instead run a card to increase my consistency or more even matchups to throw them in my favor.

Match Summary

Round 1 – Big Basics – W
Round 2 – Big Basics – W
Round 3 – Darkrai – W
Round 4 – Darkrai – W
Round 5 – Big Basics – L
Round 6 – RayEels – W
Round 7 – Garbodor – L
Round 8 – Darkrai – W

My Round 4 and Round 5 matches were recorded and you can view them below. There isn’t any commentary on them, but the sound for the cameras was left on, so you can hear us talking. Both matches were against friends of mine, so the conversations were pretty relaxed and there might be some occasional swearing (just a heads up).

Round 4 vs. Yoshi Tate with Darkrai EX/Terrakion NVI/Hammers/Ether

Round 5 vs. Isaiah Bettridge with Big Basics

I finished Swiss at 6-2 and made cut somewhere in the upper half of the bracket. I sorted my deck and turned it in, then decided that seeing my girlfriend Saturday night and Sunday was more important than playing top cut.

Her dead week and finals are coming up and we both have rough schedules for the next few weeks also. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it up to see her till after her finals, so it was important to me to spend as much time with her as possible. Had I played I’d only have gotten to see her for a few hours on Sunday night.

I didn’t need the Championship Points and the only way I gained something is if I won the entire thing. Garbodor ended up winning the event and with my near auto-loss to it, there is almost no way I would have won anyway.

I made arrangements for my girlfriend’s brother to pick up my deck and prizes in the morning (he ended up T16 with the same list). I made the drive back to her house and enjoyed the rest of the weekend with her.

Why to Tinker with Winning Decks

Something I always try to do in each of my articles is discuss some of my thought processes behind deck building. I do it in hopes that you can really see where I’m coming from and what is going through my head. I know personally I get a lot out of it when I discuss deck building with other people, so I always like to share my insights with you as well.
Be willing to tinker with success.

This month the concept I want to discuss is making adjustments to a winning list from one event to another in the same format. This is something that’s always very hard for me to do, but I’ve learned over the years just how important it is to adapt to a changing meta in a short period of time. Prime examples of this are adapting from the beginning of Cities to the end of them and from the beginning of States to the end of Regionals.

If I have success with a deck it’s very hard for me to sit down and make changes to the list. Especially if it was a card that had won me a game in the previous tournament.

The most recent example that comes to mind is last year at Nationals I played a single tech copy of Max Potion in my Darkrai/Mewtwo deck. The Max Potion actually won me a game against Speed Darkrai in top cut. It was a very hard decision for me to cut the Max Potion heading into Worlds. After all had not had that Max Potion at Nationals I might have lost in Top 128.

What I had to do is look at the tournament as a whole though and not focus on that one game. That one game was the only game the entire weekend where I actually felt like Max Potion really made that big of a difference. In the end I ended up cutting it for another D Energy, which proved to be a much more stable and well-rounded card for Worlds.

There were multiple times over the weekend at Hawaii that I had the exact right number of D Energy to pull off a T1/T2 Night Spear and I might not have been able to had I played the Max Potion instead.

What I’m trying to get across is you have to realize just because a deck has done well it doesn’t mean that changes don’t need to be made or it doesn’t need to be adapted for a changing meta.

After a tournament (even one you did well at) it’s important to look back over the tournament and your deck and think of possible changes that could be made. And just because you discuss a change or test a change doesn’t mean you have to carry that change into the next tournament.

It’s important to always be thinking outside of the box and trying new things. This is how you stay ahead of the ever changing meta.

Notable Cards of Plasma Freeze

I’m actually very excited for this set because of all of the support that Team Plasma gets. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I’m really hoping to see a format that is more representative of the SP format we had a few years ago.

Tip: If you don’t have a playset of the Team Plasma Trainers from Plasma Storm, I’d buy them now. I expect Colress Machine especially to jump shortly after the release of this next set. At the very least they’re going to be harder to trade for.

Thundurus EX

“Raiden Wins”

I really expect to see Thundurus EX be the backbone of many hardcore dedicated Team Plasma decks. Its first attack can set up some huge plays being able to get back both Double Colorless Energy and Plasma Energy.

I would expect most lists to end up running 3-4 copies of this card to try and get that early Energy acceleration. The first problem I see with this card is figuring out an Energy lineup where you’re able to play enough L Energy to ensure that you see one early game.

Most Team Plasma decks are going to want to run 4 DCE and 4 Team Plasma Energy, which is already 8 Energy spots. Most decks try exceptionally hard to play as few Energy as possible in an effort to run higher amounts of Trainers to boost their consistency and flexibility.

The second problem I see is being able to get Energy in the discard pile early. We might also see a trend of playing Ultra Ball over Plasma Ball just so you can discard the Energy.

Both of these are reasons I question myself if Thundurus EX will really be the backbone of the deck or if players will favor a single copy aiming more to set up late game plays rather than try to pile on early aggression.

If I am correct and Thundurus EX is a major player in the new format then I expect Landorus-EX to be a popular counter. I highly suggest picking up a playset of Landorus right now. If it’s out of your budget I wouldn’t worry too much because since it’s a pretty playable card now the price might not jump that much.


There is just simply no way that I see this card being bad. It’s a searchable PlusPower and when used with other damage modifiers like Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym it’s very easy for decks to find those magic numbers to score 1HKOs.

Its attack is really only situationally useful as a Mewtwo EX counter or to punish something your opponent has stacked too many Energy on. For the most part though the attack is simply too easy to play around to be effective.

Bench space does become a real issue when running multiple Deoxys-EX along with other attackers. I expect most Plasma builds to run between 1-3 copies depending on space and other issues. The 4th copy just seems overkill and it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever get the full 4 copies in play.

Tornadus EX

It even looks a little bit like Chatot.

There are quite a few combinations of cards that will allow you to get T1 120 with Tornadus EX. I don’t think these situations are going to be common, but I’m willing to gamble they’ll happen enough to be worth mentioning.

However, my real love for the card comes from its first attack. For just a single C Energy you shuffle your hand into your deck and draw a new hand of 6.

A hand refresh Pokémon that is searchable is something this format has been in desperate need of. This basically turns Ultra Ball into a consistency card at the same time. I really would have preferred to have seen this attack on a little less bulky of a Pokémon such as a reprint of Chatot MD with a little bit more health.

I expect to see this as a 0-1-of in most Plasma decks. Since I expect Thundurus EX to see large amounts of play I just don’t see entire Plasma decks built around this guy, but of course I could be wrong. We also might see him pop up in other decks just for the consistency it offers.

The problem is this format is so fast that most large EX’s like this go down in 2 hits and later in the game you simply don’t have time to waste your attack on getting a new hand.


This is one of the biggest things I’m up in the air about and I’m really unsure just how much play it will see. At first I assumed that this would be an instant “4-of” in every single deck. The ability to go first (another problem with the first turn rule) and simply rip every Item out of your opponent’s hand while netting yourself a bunch of new cards seems too good to pass up.

However, the more I thought about it the more I realized that this sort of situation was really only potential on the first turn of the game. Most of the Item cards that see play now are Items that are played instantly. Cards like Ultra Ball, Energy Search, Colress Machine, etc. will rarely ever sit in the hand.

In the later stages of the game this means Ghetsis will normally only shuffle back in 1 or 2 Items and net you only 1 or 2 cards. This does very little to disrupt your opponent and even less to improve your consistency. In the later stages of the game most players would rather have a Bianca, Colress, etc. to net themselves more cards instead of doing a small amount of disruption to the opponent.

Regardless of how much or how little play Ghetsis does see, it will completely change how the game is played. Extremely Item-heavy decks will most likely adapt their lists to be less Item heavy. Also players will have to get in the habit of burning their Items instantly and not holding on to them.

This will also make scouting going into top cut that much more important. You should play dramatically different against a deck that doesn’t run Ghetsis compared to a deck that does.

Right now my general prediction is that early on in Battle Roads Ghetsis will see a large amount of play simply because of the allure of ripping your opponent’s hand apart before they even get a chance to draw.

However, later on in Battle Roads and into Nationals players will realize that these situations are not particularly common. In many cases they’ll find themselves playing fewer copies of Ghetsis or dropping the card entirely for more consistent Supporter options.

Decks Post-Plasma Freeze

Please keep in mind that I haven’t started testing real seriously yet and a lot of these lists are going to be rough. I spent an entire month perfecting Luxchomp and expect a similar process with Team Plasma heading into Nationals and Worlds.

Tier 1


Pokémon – 9

4 Darkrai-EX DEX
3 Sableye DEX
1 Absol PLF
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 39

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Bianca
3 Ghetsis


4 Ultra Ball
4 Dark Patch
4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Hypnotoxic Laser
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Eviolite

2 Dark Claw

1 Computer Search


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

12 D


I’m usually never a fan of a card that my opponent can play around and Absol falls right into that category. It’s too easy for an opponent to manipulate the damage Absol can do by controlling their bench size. I still choose to play a single copy though as a way for me to play around a “Safeguard” Ability and it also offers the deck a non-EX attacker.

No Random Receiver

I think RR is amazing in the deck, but I’m shying away from it until I see how much play Ghetsis receives.


Pokémon – 11

4 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
2 Keldeo-EX
2 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 Skyla
3 N
1 Colress
1 Ghetsis


4 Ultra Ball
1 Heavy Ball
1 Level Ball
4 Rare Candy

4 Superior Energy Retrieval
3 Pokémon Catcher

1 Computer Search


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

10 W
3 Lighting

Possible Techs


The only card that Blastoise gains from the new set is Super Energy Retrieval. However, Super Energy Retrieval brings the deck even further into the Tier 1 spotlight. It becomes insanely easy to drop a Black Kyurem EX out of nowhere or a 6 Energy Keldeo. As long as you have Blastoise-EX on the field your opponent will never feel safe because they you could drop anything and have it fully powered in the blink of an eye.

Expect for changing Energy Retrieval to Super Energy Retrieval my list really hasn’t changed much since States/Regionals. I built the entire list around setting up consistently early game and than have enough resources to sweep late game. I feel like my list offers the perfect balance between consistency and tech.

Team Plasma

Pokémon – 10

4 Thundurus-EX PLF
2 Deoxys-EX
2 Lugia-EX

1 Tornadus-EX PLF
1 Snorlax PLS

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
3 Bianca


4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Colress Machine
4 Switch
2 Ultra Ball
1 Team Plasma Ball
1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

4 Double Colorless
4 Plasma
4 Prism
1 Blend WLFM

I built the deck with a very “Big Basics” feel to it and used a very similar structure in the Pokémon, Trainers, and Energy. I’ll give a brief overview on each section and how I feel they come together.


It has the makeup of a good card.

The Pokémon lineup is designed with a large emphasis on using Thundurus EX in the early game to power up bench Pokémon and take cheap KOs. The 30 damage may not seem like much, but with Deoxys-EX, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Virbank City Gym it’s pretty easy to hit early.

Tornadus EX, Lugia EX, and Snorlax are all very situational attackers, and by putting a large focus on Thundurus EX early its very easy to transition into the right attacker for the matchup in hand during the mid and late game.

While Tornadus EX is in the deck as an attacker, being an additional consistency card (searchable with Ultra Ball or Team Plasma Ball) is the main reason he got included.


The Trainer lineup is also pretty similar to Big Basics and fitting in 4 Colress Machines makes the lineup much tighter than I originally thought it would be. I think it all looks pretty standard though.


I am taking a major gamble here and playing only Special Energy. Off the top of my head I can’t really think of anything that could really punish me for it other than a Darkrai list that uses Sableye to constantly Junk Hunt 2 Enhanced Hammers, but even then Thundurus EX/Deoxys-EX/Laser/Virbank should 1HKO the Sableye.


Even from just looking at my list I can tell that it looks really rough and needs a lot of testing and refining. However, right now it takes the deck in the direction that I want, which is a large emphasis on Thundurus EX as an early attacker scoring cheap KOs with Deoxys/Laser/Virbank and then a transition into Lugia EX or Snorlax to take cheap Prizes or hit the opponent hard.

I’m also sure my deck has some glaring weakness that I’ll discover through playtesting. I always try and be upfront and honest about any of my deck’s strengths and weaknesses, including this one. This list is going to be my starting point and I’m hoping in my next UG article in May I’ll be able to bring you a much more tested and refined list.

Tier 2

These are decks that I don’t see it making it out of Tier 2 but do have at least some hype built up around them. They might be fun league decks or decks to mess around with, but they’re certainly not decks I’d put a lot of time and effort into testing or trying to perfect.

Weavile PLF/Exeggcute PLF

It’s a cute deck.

This deck looks like it’s a lot of fun, but it’s too fragile to ever see any real competitive play. The deck forces you to play 4 Exeggcute and with only 30 HP it’s extremely unlikely you’ll even get a turn going 2nd with a lone Exeggcute start.

Sneasel on the other hand fares slightly better with 70 HP, but its Fighting Weakness makes it still extremely vulnerable to Landorus-EX + Laser.

With Weavile only having 90 HP it’s going to get 1HKO’d in most situations, which forces the deck to stream fresh Weaviles every turn. The deck will also most likely go down in Prizes and chain 1HKOs in the later game. However, if at any point it fails to hit a 1HKO it will most likely lose.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the 1HKO potential the deck has from non-EX attackers. I just feel overall the deck is too slow, weak, and fragile to be a strong player in our new metagame.

Chandelure PLF/Reshiram BLW/Reshiram-EX/Laser/Virbank

I feel there are going to be a lot of different ways to use Chandelure, but I went with the most obvious combo here. The problem with the deck is we’re not at the point in the game yet where Stage 2’s can really compete. Until we get a better first turn rule and a revision on the Rare Candy rule they’re simply too slow to keep up with faster and more consistent Basic decks.

Playing 50 HP Basics is too scary in this format and this doesn’t apply just to Chandelure, but to any Stage 2 deck right now.

This is really quite sad because we have so many Stage 2 Pokémon that could really become more viable if the rules were adjusted. Chandelure PLF, Metagross PLF, and Empoleon DEX are all great examples. The Pokémon Company keeps releasing decent Stage 2’s, suggesting they want them to see play, they just need to go ahead and make some rule changes to support this as well.

Rare Candy needs to be changed back to so you can use it the same turn the Pokémon comes into play and the first turn rule needs to be changed to help decrease donks. If these two things were changed I promise you’d start to see more Stage 2 decks at the top tables.


This happens every few sets where we get some semi-playable evolutions from Eevee with some halfway decent Abilities and people start going crazy with how easy it is to type match and stuff. However once people start testing and actually playing the deck, they quickly realize the deck sounds better in theory than in actual practice.

I really don’t see anything different this time around. Leafeon is too easy to play around, Flareon is too hard to set up, Vaporeon’s healing is too slow, Umbreon doesn’t add enough health (even being stackable), Glaceon does nothing to get you out of Sleep from Laser, Jolteon is too easy to play around, and Espeon doesn’t hit hard enough.

To go along with this, all of their health is too low and their attacks are overpriced and don’t hit hard enough for the deck to be viable.

I’m sure some people will disagree with me on some of these decks and I’d be more than happy to have a good discussion about them in the forums.

Meta Predictions

Spring Battle Roads

Battle Roads can be very tricky tournaments to predict because not every player takes them seriously and you have a lot more casual players that attend them. This is why I think you will see a lot more fun decks show up such as Weavile/Exeggutor.

Competitive players can be a lot harder to make reads on, but they are normally fall into one of two groups. Some will simply play what they are used to and have it updated for the new format. In my mind, these players will most likely be using Blastoise, Darkrai, or RayEels.

The second group is the competitive players who use the gap in deck building skills to do really well early in an event series. From this type of player I would really expect to see some different variations of Team Plasma decks. Some will crash and burn and others will be way ahead of the meta. These are definitely the players to watch at Battle Roads when thinking more toward Nationals.

The other thing I’ve discussed in the past is that Battle Roads tend to be more local tournaments, so really watch what the local player base is testing and trading for. A lot of the time this can give you a very accurate representation of the meta for your local Battle Roads.

US Nationals

Heading into Nationals on the other hand we can expect to see far more perfected lists and a much stronger metagame. This year Spring Battle Roads will most likely have high attendance from players to close to a Worlds invite.

The best players, who already have an invite, will most likely either not play Battle Roads nor perfected lists. If you already have an invite and a decklist considerably ahead of the meta, you have very little reason to show it off at a BR’s.

The speed of the format really doesn’t allow for any rogue decks to see high amounts of play. This is why I expect to about the same format we have for Battle Roads, but with players being far more prepared.

Note: If there is one thing I would likely to stress here, it’s if you don’t have the cards to play a deck at 100%, don’t play the deck at a major tournament. I personally think money should never be a factor and cards should always have a version that’s under $30. However, this simply is not the case with cards like Tropical Beach running to $130+.

I know it’s not fun, but if you don’t have Tropical Beach then don’t run Blastoise, Klinklang, or any other deck where you need two copies minimum. A majority of the time 1 will make the deck playable, but it’s not the best and the deck should still be dropped from your choices.

Going into a major tournament if you want to do well your decklist should never be based on what cards you have access to. If you’re playing a watered down version of a deck then you’re putting yourself in a much weaker situation.


Keep a close eye on the Grinders.

For Worlds the meta usually comes full circle and heading into the biggest tournament of the year the top tier decks have been pretty well established. Most of the time players tend to avoid riskier deck options that play well only in certain metas like Garbodor or Klinklang. I expect the meta to consist mainly of Team Plasma, Darkrai, and Blastoise.

Really watch the Grinders closely though and see what does well. Pay extra special attention to the Japanese players and what they are playing. They’ve brought some pretty metagame defining decks to Worlds in the past when players claimed the format was stale.

Basically heading into Worlds I usually expect a similar meta to Nationals, just with less random decks.


Hopefully I’m not being overly optimistic, but I really think the new set is going to move the game in a positive direction.

Space is going to be even tighter in decklists and people are going to go in different directions on techs and card counts. This will make it much harder for players to know exactly what their opponents are playing and force them to prepare for different situations.

I’m also very excited and interested to read Colin Moll’s, Erik Nance’s, and Michael Diaz’s thoughts on the new set as well. These are all players that have been at the forefront of meta defining decks (Torterra, Mewtwo/Eels, and Darkrai/Mewtwo respectfully) and generally seem to be ahead of the curve.

US Nationals is only a few short months away and for many people will be the make or break tournament for Worlds invites. This format is still shrouded in mystery, but I’m very excited to watch how it develops and see how accurate my predictions are.

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