It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, but that isn’t due to lack of playing (clocking in 107 premier games this season), rather a lack of things I felt compelled to write about. If you’re not into reading 4,000+ words, you’ll want to scroll down a bit. For everyone else, hang on.
With that out of the way, the season has come to a close for me, but Spring Battle Roads represents the most fun I’ve had playing in tournaments since the game still had the “new” smell for me a little over a year ago.
Entering Spring Battle Roads with just 56 Championship Points and traveling to Indianapolis not within my means at the present time, I had nothing to play for. With tins containing Thundurus EX, Lugia EX, and Deoxys-EX coming in the fall, I have little incentive to overpay for cards for these small tournaments, only to watch their value tank in a few months.
I’ve tested Gothitelle since last year’s rotation, and touched base with it with each new set that we get. I’ve always felt the deck was strong, but would crap out at the end of games because the lock could not be contained. Something was missing, and it wasn’t the force the Chandelure NVI/Vileplume UD variant was at the end of last season.
I was very intrigued when Dusknoir BCR was first released. You could, in theory, create a perfect lock of Deck and Cover and damage manipulation. I imagine many minds thought the same thing back in November; the combo is fairly obvious. However, Keldeo was also released in Boundaries Crossed, effectively shelving status conditions for Cities and Winter Regionals.
Plasma Storm was then released and Gothitelle was all but forgotten. Hypnotoxic Laser assured 60 HP Basics were a thing of the past.
Then something amazing happened at the Wisconsin State Championship. People were whispering about how Kyle “Pooka” Sucevich was 3-0 with Gothitelle. I was immediately intrigued that someone of Kyle’s caliber thought Gothitelle was good enough to play in a big tournament.
Kyle posted an article about his experience with the deck, and even included his (allegedly Michael Pramawat’s) list. I decided to play it, card-for-card, at a local tournament against the article’s wishes. The deck tested well, earning me a 3-0 in a semi-competitive environment.
While Keldeo was the card the kept the deck from emerging, it was now the card that made this semi-viable, saving precious Energy attachments. A single Darkness attachment to Keldeo meant you could save your Energy attachments the rest of the game for Mew-EX.
I began tweaking the deck. I felt like the 8 “draw a new hand” Supporters were too few and began building the deck my own way, with more draw Supporters.
Sadly, I just could never get the deck to feel right. Every game was competitive, but I was usually come up short at the end. There was always a damaged EX on my opponents bench that I couldn’t access, but Dusknoir had long left my mind.
Esa then wrote an article on this deck winning the Norway National Championship, creating polarizing views amongst the community. Many felt a deck with two Stage 2s, two Stage 1s, a 120 HP EX, and a sufficient amount of easily donkable starters could not possibly be good enough. A BDIF contender this was not.
Others were annoyed that their “secret Nats deck” was now out in the wild. And finally, others were excited to see a new archetype be introduced into the metagame.
I was a bit disappointed in myself for not continuing working on Gothitelle. I incorrectly felt Darkrai, and the extra Energies, were necessary to finish games off (during testing, I usually finished the game with a Night Spear). This shortsightedness made me miss what I knew back in November. Dusknoir would complete the lock. Float Stone freed up bench space to make it all work.
Pre-Battle Roads Testing
Fast forward to the end of May. I figure Darkrai and Kyurem PLF were the best attackers in the game, and I was looking for something that could trade well with both. I decided Keldeo-EX was the only attacker in the format that could consistently KO anything the game had to offer.
I included a Mr. Mime PLF (shout-out to Yoshi Tate) and Kyogre EX to seal up the Darkrai matchup and headed home Friday night after league (5/31/13) feeling confident Blastoise would be good enough to win a Battle Road.
However, the evening before my first Spring Battle Road, I get cold feet. My confidence is shattered as the horrors of States (3-4) and Regionals (3-3 drop) begin to rear their ugly head. There was a reason the best players have long abandoned the turtles. The morning of 6/1/13 I built GothLock with zero testing, just 40 minutes before the tournament began. This is what I came up with:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 36
Energy – 4
This card was put in simply to get Gothitelle active in case I faced a Quad Snorlax deck or started with Munna or Duskull.
This card has obvious synergy with Dusknoir, and I’m surprised people didn’t play this when Empoleon/Dusknoir was a thing.
I really don’t want to waste resources getting Munna or Duskull out of the Active Spot. The easiest way to avoid this scenario is to play as few non-optimal starters as possible.
Everything else should probably look standard. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room when you play 4 Rare Candy and 20 Pokémon. The only reason this deck even works is because you can get away with just 4 Energy cards, freeing up valuable space.
So with the rushed and untested deck set to go, let’s get to the tournament reports.
Ashwaubenon, WI – Saturday, June 1st
Round 1 – Bennett Mayhugh (1-2, drop) Mewtwo Eels
Bennett was playing an old-school Eelektrik deck featuring Mewtwo as the primary attacker, with Bouffalant DRX and Zekrom BLW playing secondary roles. He also played Hypnotoxic Laser to help Mewtwo do what it does best, punish you for having energy on your Pokémon. I knew his list didn’t play Keldeo (as these were my cards, and I wrote out the decklist) but I honestly assumed his heavy Mewtwo EX line would destroy my setup.
I win the coin flip and get out some Basics, but have a Gothita active. I anticipated a Mewtwo/DCE 1HKO on his turn but he is forced to attach a Lightning and pass.
He is able to take a couple of prizes but once the lock hit, it was over. I catcher the Mewtwo active, do 100 + 10 + 10 damage a turn, and then spread it out with Dusknoir until he finally concedes.
Round 2 – Alex Bunker (3-2, 6th) Darkrai/Absol
I hate playing my friends in the early rounds and am disappointed to see I am facing Alex Bunker. I had seen his list during registration and knew he wasn’t playing any Keldeo-EX, but I also feared a turn 2 Night Spear destroying my setup.
Thankfully I win the coin flip and within 5-6 turns I am able to secure the lock. I never miss a Deck and Cover and he concedes despite me still needing 3 more knock outs.
Kyurem PLF, Tornadus EX, Mewtwo EXRound 3 – Robert Arguelles (3-2, 8th) Garbodor w/
While setting up, Robert joked that he was playing Shiftry NXD and I’m trying to figure out what that would do to my deck. Thankfully, my fear was for nothing and he is playing a Garbodor deck with Kyurem PLF, Frozen City, and a few other Plasma goodies. I’m fairly certain this was a Blastoise hate deck.
I win the coin flip (again!) and open a lone Shelmet. He reveals he had the donk in hand had he gone first. Whew.
The turn he sets Garbotoxin is the turn I land a Tool Scrapper, Gothitelle, Deck and Cover, all at once. While he was able to Knock Out two Pokés early, I am able to stabilize on this epic turn and never look back. He also concedes before I am able to take all 6 Prizes. I suppose he was just a spectator anyway.
Landorus-EX, Tornadus EX, BouffalantRound 4 – Andrew Lee (4-1, 2nd)
Here was a deck I expected to see, a deck from the previous format. I put his Tornadus to sleep using Mew-EX to copy either Munna’s or Gothita’s attack and he stays asleep for 2 full turns allowing me to set up. Tornadus finally wakes up, but I paralyze it and never look back.
Round 5 – Hoi-an Thai (4-1, 3rd) Darkrai EX, Bouffalant
At this point I’m happy that I was able to Eeeeeeek out 4 victories and half assume my luck will run out. I’ve played Hoi-an plenty of times at non-premier events and I swear he always draws the worst hands possible against me. Sadly, this battle was no different. He isn’t able to do anything for 4-5 turns, while I set up at a reasonable pace. I take a 6-0 victory and manage to earn a gold Victory Cup.
5-0, 1st Place
Now as happy as I was to finally win a tournament this season (sad, I know), I did feel pretty lucky. Everything seemed to fall my way, and no one teched Keldeo into their decks. There was another Battle Roads the next day, so I left the deck unchanged for my trip to Glendale, WI.
Glendale is a bit fuzzy for me. There were very few people I recognized, and for some reason that makes me forget how games went. In any case…
Glendale, WI – Sunday, June 2nd
Round 1 – Xander – Ho-Oh w/ Double Keldeo
A trend I’m noticing in my area is the evaporation of the Junior and Senior divisions. There were so few Juniors and Seniors that some would have to play against trainers in other divisions. And as luck would have it, I got paired against a Senior for my first round. Now normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I got paired against the 2011 Junior National Champion, Xander P.
If you’ve ever met Xander, he’s quite smart, and not someone you want to face in Round 1-of a tournament. Because he wasn’t in my age division, we wouldn’t affect each other’s resistance. If I win, I effectively got a bye. If I lose, then I would be missing my opponent’s win on my resistance.
Rambling aside, he’s playing Ho-oh and I’m not terribly concerned. He opens Terrakion and attaches a Fighting. On his second turn he attaches a second Fighting and Retaliates for 30. On his following turn, he drops a Keldeo and attaches a Double Colorless. Retaliate for 30. I’m able to get a Gothitelle up at this point, but am struggling to get going.
A second Keldeo-EX is dropped. Xander then attaches a Water Energy to Keldeo, Rushes In, and Knocks Out my Gothitelle (30 + 30 + 70 = 130). I am able to Deck and Cover but he has no problems 2-shotting my Gothitelles and my set up is all but ruined. I’m able to secure a Dusknoir and finally Knock Out one of his Keldeos and end the double Rush In shenanigans.
With my Item lock gone the game gets very strange. I have a Dusknoir and Musharna on my bench, and my third Float Stone is in my prizes, so if they get catchered, it’s over for me.
On turn 0 I Knock Out his EX, and only have 2 Prizes to go. On turn 1 of time, he has just a single prize to take, to my 2. He isn’t able to attack, catchers my Musharna, and passes. I draw, needing a Double Colorless Energy (already fishing my Float Stone out of my prizes on Turn 0). My top deck is not a DCE.
But when I use Forewarn, my next 2 cards are both Double Colorless and I’m able to deck and cover for my final 2 Prizes.
Round 2 – Team Plasma w/ Keldeo
My confidence is a bit low after the previous battle and I finally get to play against a Plasma deck. He gets a decent start and my worst fear is realized… a fully loaded Snorlax. He Knocks Out 2 Gothitelles and things aren’t looking good. Thankfully I hit a magical turn and am able to catcher his Keldeo-EX and start the Deck and Cover game.
On one turn, I whiff the Double Colorless and I’m worried. I’m forced to Tropical Beach for a fresh hand. I have no way to get out a Gothitelle the next turn, let alone also find a Pokémon Catcher and re-establish the lock. On his turn, he attaches a Double Colorless to his benched Snorlax. He asks if he can take the attachment back and I politely say no. He passes.
I draw a card and at the moment my opponent realizes the magnitude of his misplaced Energy. He could have retreated his Keldeo and cruised to a victory. Instead I never miss another Deck and cover and steal the game.
Round 3 – Team Plasma
The last 2 games were quite shaky and I’m paired against another Plasma deck. On an early turn, he is able to KO my only Shelmet and nothing is going my way. I struggle very badly to get anything going and he takes 4 Prizes before I can establish any board presence. I thankfully stabilize and am able to bring the prize count to 2-2.
At this point I’m out of Gothelles, and whiff a DCE and am stuck with an Accelgor active (not benching Mew, as it’s an EX). I catcher his Deoxys and pass. He plays a Laser on my Accelgor and I don’t wake up… this is quite unfortunate as I get another Gothitelle up, as well as a DCE but am forced to pass.
With Accelgor Knocked Out, I promote Gothitelle, bench a Shelmet and Duskull. I have a Candy and Dusknoir in hand, and can win in just a few turns. But he Ns me to 2. Now I’m looking at just a Rare Candy and a Skyla. He hits my Gothitelle for 120 using Thundurus’s other attack.
I topdeck something useless, and use my Skyla for an Ultra Ball. I Ultra Ball my hand away for a Musharna. My only hope is a DCE on a Forewarn and hope I can put him to sleep. I miss. I’m forced to pass as he Knocks Out Gothitelle for his final Prize.
Round 4 – Darkrai
My first round “bye” comes in handy as I’m up-paired with a 3-0. This was a rather uneventful game. I establish the lock early and am able to get my deck down to just a single card. After Deck and Cover, my deck has just 2 DCE and a Mew-EX. This means with Forewarn, I cannot miss a Deck and Cover.
Round 5 – Kyle Sparrow (4-1, 6th) Team Plasma
My lone Gothita gets donked by a Deoxys. We play a second game for fun, and he attacks just 3 times, his Lugia EX taking 6 Prizes, and me 1 Catcher short of securing a moral victory.
3-2, 7th Place
I felt a little disappointed, but you can’t run red hot every game. I think if I had played differently in Round 3 I might have been able to bench the second Shelmet early on and not get so far behind. But with 10 games under my belt, I feel a lot more confident with the deck and am starting to understand the intricacies of the deck.
There are a lot of important decisions to make on the early turns, especially with Ultra Ball. You need to figure out how many Gothitelle you will need to build through the match. Bench space is at a premium, and you can’t bench unnecessary Gothitas. You also need to determine when it’s time to find a Duskull, and start determining when to use Sinister Hand for a prize and when to wait. And with just 4 Rare Candy and a Dowsing machine, you need to preserve your Candies.
With my first weekend of Battle Roads out of the way, let’s talk about some of my previous card decisions.
Card Explanations Revisited
I never started Munna or Duskull, nor did I ever have problems getting out a Dusknoir, thanks to…
This card bailed me out of so many bad spots. There is nothing like using Sinister Hand to score yourself a Pokémon Catcher, Colress, Rare Candy, or Double Colorless Energy. It’s also necessary to get your prized Duskull or Dusknoir. This card wasn’t just a luxury, but a critical part of the deck. I wouldn’t think of dropping it.
I really wanted a switching card for fear of Snorlax, or an emergency way of getting something out of the active. I think it helped me just once in the 10 games I played, often regulating itself to Ultra Ball fodder.
This card seemed good in theory, but it was mostly useless. Once I drew 5 cards with it, but it was usually between 1-2.
I’ve seen some lists skip the Stage 1 entirely. Yet I’ve never seen a Klinklang list skip their Stage 1…
I played this over computer search for its utility. The ability to get back Level Ball, Catcher, Rare Candy, and Super Rod seemed to good to pass up. While it sucks to open with it, this card gave me a lot more options mid game for a critical resource, or the ideal Supporter for the turn.
Everything else, and arguably the above, is fairly standard. But I did make 3 changes going into my final premier tournament of the season. I switched to the Long-Distance Hypnosis Munna, despite it having 10 less HP than the one from BLW. Pooka posted a video on YouTube where this card literally turned the game to his favor.
I dropped the Ghetsis for a second Colress. Colress was my MVP and I desperately wanted more of them as the weekend went on. Lastly, I dropped the Escape Rope for a Ditto. For no other reason than Kettler had one in his Underground list. Is there a better reason?
Fond du Lac, WI – Saturday, June 8th
Round 1 – Casey Smith (2-3, 14th) RayEels w/ Double Keldeo
I get off to a very strong start, including a turn 2 Gothitelle. The lock cripples his set up and I start the Deck and Cover on his active Rayquaza and keep the damage spread. He finally drops a Keldeo-EX and is able to get a KO on my Gothitelle.
From here, I lock the Keldeo-EX active for a while until he surprises me with a second Keldeo-EX. His is able to Knock Out another Gothitelle. Thankfully I had another one on the bench. I use Sinister Hand to Knock Out his only Eelektrik, and a Tynamo and he concedes the game.
He reveals he knew the game was long over, but wanted to get the surprise Rush In to secure a second knock-out.
Round 2 – Kyle Sparrow (1-4, 16th) Team Plasma
Kyle had donked me the weekend before and I was nervous of a repeat performance. I start lone Shelmet and he wins the coin flip. Oh no, not again… Thankfully he was 1 card short of the 1HKO and hits my Shelmet for not 60 damage. I get an average start and take control of the game.
On one turn I forgot to use Sinister Hand and accidentally knocked-out his Deoxys-EX for my first 2 Prizes. I have a brief panic as he can Knock Out my only Gothitelle. I then start counting damage and realize I have 340 damage on his field, enough to KO 2 more EXs with Sinister Hand. It would have been far more epic to take all 6 Prizes at once. But I settle for 6 Prizes in 2 turns.
I open with a lone Poké and quite possibly the worst hand ever. Double Colorless, Double Colorless, Rare Candy, Rare Candy, Skyla, Dowsing Machine. I top deck something useless (possibly Colress) and am forced to Skyla for a Level Ball just to not get benched. The next turn Dowsing Machine for the used Skyla and grab a Beach.
The game really never gets better. He gets a Keldeo-EX and hits me nearly every turn. On my last turn, my hand is 3 Double Colorless, 3 Rare Candy, and a Juniper. My deck is all Pokémon. Just one of them games.
Round 4 – Franco J. Llamas (3-2, 6th) Team Plasma
Franco is a Pokédad, not to be confused with his son. He get’s a strong start and takes an early Knock-Out on one of my 60 HP Basics, following by a Lugia EX KO on my Gothitelle. From here I need to get a Gothitelle, Accelgor, and Double Colorless just to stay in the game.
Franco is a great sport and cheers me on (seriously, nicest Pokédad ever) as I Colress for 8. I hit everything I need to Deck and Cover and promote a Gothitelle. He reveals he had the Catcher and the Plasma Energy to take his final 3 Prizes on my benched Mew-EX had I whiffed.
The game plays out as expected and I proceed to Deck and Cover my way to 6 unanswered prizes. I whiffed Deck and Cover only once, but he had no way to KO my Gothitelle while I refreshed my hand with Tropical Beach.
Round 5 – Abe Morales (2-3, 11th) Rlax
My early opponents are not doing very well and I get the down pair to Abe, at 2-2. I knew he was playing Quad Snorlax. I feel this is a winnable matchup as long as I don’t over complicate things. Thankfully I don’t start with Munna or Duskull.
After Abe mulligans somewhere around 8 times, I win the coin flip I am able to get both a Gothita and Shelmet into play. This means I can get my Mew-EX out of the active with a Deck and Cover. I also Ultra Ball away a Catcher and Musharna for a Gothitelle. I have a Skyla and a Double Colorless in hand and just hope he doesn’t N.
He Catchers up my Gothita and poisons it. He then plays Ghetsis to net himself 5 cards. Lastly he attaches a Rocky Helmet to his Snorlax. Thankfully, I have the Skyla in hand, and I Rare Candy into Gothitelle, and attach a Double Colorless and pass. He Ns me into another Skyla, which I use on my turn for a Tool Scrapper and he concedes the game.
At the start of the Round 5, there was a 4-0, and six 3-1s. With my now awful resistance, I need a miracle to earn some points. Basically, I need the 4-0 to beat a 3-1, which would give us a 5-0, and just three at 4-1. If the 4-0 loses, we would have five at 4-1 and I fear I would whiff.
Follow all of that?
Long story short, Tyson Stephan goes undefeated and one of the remaining 4-1s has a worse resistance than myself. I earn another Victory Cup!
4-1, 3rd Place
My 61st Cards
Tropical Beach can be a life saver in the early game, and a dead card late game if you opponent doesn’t play any Stadiums. Yet I’ve won games with both Tropical Beach prized. I can tell you that being able to Beach on the first few turns of the game makes your life a lot easier. The only way to increase your odds of that are to run more.
I’m quite happy with the way the deck performed. I accept the fact I didn’t play in the 3 most competitive tournaments in the country, but I’m happy to end my season on a high note.
I wish I had some game breaking tech that makes the deck less fragile, or more consistent. Perhaps someone else has. I think most lists will only vary 3-6 cards from each other. GothLock should not be underestimated for Nationals. Many players did not tech for Klinklang last year and the deck was able to take home the title.
If the general consensus is that no good player will attempt GothLock, we may be in for a repeat performance. Long live Rare Candy.