Hey guys, here’s an article to help you prepare for the last stretch of the TCG season. This one will help you out the most if you’ve already figured out what deck to play, but not exactly what to run in your list. The best way to make use of this resource is by thinking about what matchups you are most likely to face, and which one of those will be worth teching against.
When doing this, keep in mind that it is usually better to tech for a close matchup than to try and patch up your auto-losses unless the card makes a really enormous swing. For example, your RayEels deck will probably not beat Landorus/Garbodor even if you play 2 Tool Scrapper, and you would be better off using those slots to improve a closer matchup such as Darkrai or Plasma.
Since the word “tech” has different meanings for everyone, I’ll try and make as clear of a definition in here as possible to be used for this article. I see a tech as a card that…
1. Is run in low amounts in your deck.
If you are playing 4 Sableye in your Darkrai deck, it would be more accurate to call it a Sableye/Darkrai deck than a Darkrai deck with Sableye teched in.
2. Does not form an integral, widespread, and obvious part of the deck strategy.
Even though Emolga is a 1-of in RayEels lists, it is (or was) extremely common, and it also syncs pretty much flawlessly with the deck’s goal of setting up its bench as soon as possible. Similarly, Keldeo/Float Stone is such an obvious inclusion in a deck that accelerates Energy to the bench that I do not feel it is worth mentioning in this article.
3. Is not simply a “5th copy” of something.
4. Is not an ACE SPEC.
This article is not intended to be about your choice of ACE SPECs.
If you disagree with the definitions given above, that’s fine, but I’m not going to argue about them. If it makes you sleep at night, try to think of this article as “the top 10 cards that will potentially make you feel stupid about playing them when you draw them in a matchup you do not need them in, but can also make you feel really stupid about not playing them in a matchup where you need them badly” instead. Unfortunately, titles do have to be a bit shorter and more catchy than that.
Note that some of the cards will fall under one of these definitions for some decks, but are listed for their potential in other decks.
The cards in here also haven’t been arranged in any way, but simply listed in the order they popped into my head. Which card is better depends on so many factors that I believe it’s pointless to argue about.
pokegym.netBench Barrier is extremely powerful for something that can be searched out and played down so easily. With one Level Ball or Ultra Ball, your bench becomes that much harder to penetrate for Landorus-EX, Darkrai EX, and Kyurem PLF.
Eelektrik decks appreciate this card the most, since they always seem to have trouble dealing with those repeated 30 hits on the Eel lines, but Mr. Mime can also save you a ton of damage over the course of the game in a deck like Blastoise, Darkrai, or even Plasma.
It is obviously most appealing to put it down when all you are using otherwise are EXs, but even just making a Darkrai deck chase down a Pokémon that doesn’t carry any Energy can put your opponent into an unfavorable position. And even on the turn it goes down, Mr. Mime will save 30 damage somewhere else.
9. Basic Energy
Not since the days of SP (P Energy for Crobat G to counter Donphan Prime) have we seen something like this. The only deck this applies for as a tech is Plasma. Your run of the mill Plasma deck generally runs Plasma, Prism, Blend and/or Double Colorless Energy, leaving no room for Basic Energy. Some decks have taken to exploiting this by using Enhanced Hammer or Cobalion-EX to slow Plasma down, and even though the deck can recover from it using Thundurus, you would much rather spend your turns using Kyurem or Lugia to attack, since they do about twice as much damage every turn.
Bicycle puts your deck into second gear, but only once it’s already up and running. While it does require you to shape your deck around it a little more than other techs, I still believe it is never an integral part of a deck’s strategy. It is simply a tech that is incompatible with quite a few other techs, because it requires most of the cards in your deck to be playable in almost any situation.
Bicycle is also an odd one out because it does not particularly help you out in any matchups, it just speeds up your deck. Bicycle is by far the most useful in Darkrai decks, since they are very good at thinning their hands out, and can also use the same Bicycle repeatedly with Sableye.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis card obscured itself more and more as the format progressed this season. During Battle Roads, Eviolite was everywhere, and subsequently so was Tool Scrapper. It made such a huge difference for certain Pokémon to turn 1HKOs into 2HKOs, or even 2HKOs into 3HKOs. The Eviolite vs. Tool Scrapper metagame was huge, to the point where some decks dedicated up to five slots just for these two cards.
Right now, Eviolite is on the backburner, with Float Stone and Dark Claw being on everyone’s mind as Tools of choice, and Hypnotoxic Laser taking over the role of Tool Scrapper. Do not be so quick to write off Eviolite altogether though, because it can still do things! It still turns snipe damage into pretty much a non-factor, it still forces your opponent to have that damage boost to 2HKO you.
Max Potion is a card that everyone knows is out there; its usage is so widespread that it is hard to even fit it into the definitions I outlined. For example, currently you pretty much have to assume that a Darkrai list plays at least 1 Max Potion. But it is still a card worth discussing here simply because it swings games by such huge amounts, it fits my alternate definition (the really long one) perfectly.
Obviously Max Potion denies your opponent Prizes, sometimes multiples at once. It works best when you can use it with little to no penalty, against decks that rely on 2HKOs and snipe damage rather than straight up 1HKOs.
Discarding a bunch of Energy to use Max Potion is almost never worth it, because you will probably cost yourself a turn of attacking sooner or later, which buys your opponent more time to attack you. At that point, you’ve gone full circle and you might as well not have healed.
With Quad Snorlax being an open secret now, there is no harm in also exposing the idea of a Snorlax tech to the world. Block is a very powerful Ability that at worst forces your opponent to use a Catcher at a time they didn’t want to, and at best buys you extra time to set up. It obviously works best in a deck that has the means to get Snorlax to the bench when it needs to get out of the way, but between Dark Cloak, Rush In, and Float Stone that should not be a problem nowadays.
Of course, Snorlax loses a lot of its effectiveness when everyone prepares for it by playing Switch, and it definitely does not always work out. But it can definitely be that funny 1-card twist in your otherwise standard deck that saves you a game somewhere in your deep run simply because people were not expecting it. It is not just an easy thing to 1HKO either despite being worth only 1 Prize.
Just make sure you don’t get stuck waiting behind this thing, because Poké Flute has long gone out of rotation…
And with the Snorlax cat out of the bag, we might as well get straight into Switch. With Float Stone/Keldeo being available to essentially give everything in your deck free retreat, it is not unheard of for many decks to cut Switch altogether.
But when something like that happens, there is always a card or combo around to punish it, whether it is Tynamo/Fliptini or Snorlax/Hypnotoxic Laser. So when going into Nationals, it might very well be worth your while to play at least 1 Switch even when you have other means of switching out.
One great reason for playing Switch is that just showing one will have your opponent having to account for more, whereas if you never have one out in the open they will just realize you do not play it at all (again, especially if you play Float Stone). A single Switch also gives you extra milage in a deck that uses Sableye.
That said, do not expect to beat Quad Snorlax with just a singleton Switch in anything other than Darkrai. Also, realize that Switch does nothing to aid your Accelgor/Gothitelle matchup, and that a second Keldeo can sometimes be a better use of your deck space overall.
pokemon-paradijs.comIt just so happens that cards related to combating Hypnotoxic Laser and Deck and Cover all happen to fit my definition perfectly! Audino is usually up against Switch and Keldeo when it comes to competition for a deck spot, and unsurprisingly is on the losing end. But against Gothitelle, Audino is probably the best out of all these (though searching it out isn’t possible under Magic Room).
Unfortunately, it does have less utility in a lot of other situations, mostly because it cannot cure both Sleep and Poison at once, and it can also end up as your lone starter. But there are definitely cases where that additional 10 damage heal can come in handy, even if you’re just forcing your opponent to find one more card.
The greatest thing about Audino is (oddly enough) that you can get rid of it whenever you want as long as you have something active with damage or status, which means you can burn it in time before you and your opponent start exchanging Ns in the final stages of the game.
It seems that once or twice every year, removing Special Energy gains a lot of hype, usually due to new Special Energy cards or users of those getting released. We’ve seen Lost Remover get quite some attention before the ECC last year (due to the release of Mewtwo EX and Prism Energy), and we saw it again at Worlds for dealing with the Nationals winning Klinklang.
This year, Enhanced Hammer was put on a pedestal to deal with Plasma decks, which often don’t even play basic Energy. This idea was quickly shut down by people who realized Enhanced Hammer just cannot keep up with Thundurus EX’s Raiden Knuckle.
However, don’t write off Enhanced Hammer just yet. While Junk Hunting for Enhanced Hammer over and over will not get you the win against Plasma, the key is to shift using it from during setup until midgame. I’ve found that the best time to Hammer down is on the turn where you are taking a KO, wiping multiple Energy off the board in one go. Hopefully this will stop your opponent from attacking with what they wanted.
For example, if you are making them attack with Thundurus EX’s Raiden Knuckle instead of Kyurem PLS’s Blizzard Burn, that’s saving yourself about 90 damage.
It is pretty hard to justify putting Enhanced Hammer into any deck but Darkrai though, if only because space in other decks is more tight. Keep in mind that while you do have the option to Junk Hunt for Enhanced Hammer, cards like a guaranteed Dark Patch to ensure a quick Night Spear or Random Receiver/Bicycle to keep life in your hand should have higher priority.
pokemon-paradijs.comAh, Tool Scrapper. Probably the best example of a “told you so” card over the past few formats. It is a card that is often either completely dead, or your MVP. I have seen many smug reactions from spectators living vicariously through a Garbodor player on stream, dominating a Blastoise or RayEels player because the latter did not play Tool Scrapper.
The fact is, ever since Eviolite fell out of favor, playing Tool Scrapper is almost as much of a gamble as not doing so, because you might just not encounter any Tools at all during your run and you’d stick yourself with a dead-draw way more often than you needed to.
But now that Float Stone is out, I believe Tool Scrapper will be at least moderately useful against any deck other than Blastoise. Even against Gothitelle/Accelgor, you might be able to Scrapper a Gothita at some point. There’s also Darkrai’s Dark Claw to consider, there’s Snorlax lists with Rock Guard out there, and of course Garbodor is bound to hit the spotlight again somewhere during Nationals.
I will never blame anyone for not playing Tool Scrapper, but it should definitely be on your mind for any deck you build.
I hope this article helps you decide what to and what not to include in your Nationals list. Personally, I’ve jumped into many a tournament with a complete consistency list and no techs at all, with no regrets. But I’ve also seen beautiful tech plays, so I know not to dismiss the thought of 1-of insertions.
Good luck with making this grueling decision (along as every other one you’re going to have to make), and maybe I’ll see you around in Vancouver!