Last Minute Considerations for US Nationals

Dear UG subscribers,

ash leaving pikachupokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
I’ll be back… someday.

It has been an honor to write for the SixPrizes Underground these last few months. I’m writing this introduction after Canadian Nationals on Saturday. Out of respect for my opponents, I’ll refrain from commenting on my matches, but I had what was probably my most frustrating tournament ever after a brief positive start.

To be honest, I felt I was on my game and had the ability to maximize my odds for success. I could discern all 6 of my Prize cards each game off the bat after my first search, and make informed decisions from that point on. My friend running the same list card-for-card ended swiss as the 7th seed, so I’ll take solace in Nugget Bridge‘s motto “I did my best, I have no regrets.” I felt alert and of sound mind, but one’s best can only take you so far under certain circumstances.

However I have never been a decorated player. My continued writing (and any semblance of being a “name” player) has been thanks to you guys who have consistently ‘liked’ my articles. This is the Pokémon TCG, and variance happens. I’ve watched one of the best players I know 0-3 drop with a fine deck choice. Every now and then, these things happen, and the ability to move on is part of the game.

As for this article, take it for what it’s worth. The primary language players speak in is results, and I hope to respond with them. I assure the quality of this article is the same as I have always had, and that is something you as UG subscribers know best. I’ve never claimed any sort of authority. Either way, I feel like it’s appropriate to take a break after this month.

I look forward to earning the right to address this wonderful community again after August 11th.

A Brief Comment on the Canadian Metagame

Congratulations to Zach Lesage. I’ve played Zach twice now, and he is a fine sportsman (despite some rumors milling about) and definitely deserved to win. We’ll see what punishments are dealt out upon review of the videos (which can be seen on “On The Bubble”). My 2 cents, for what it’s worth.

squirtle-boundaries-crossed-bcr-29pokemon-paradijs.com
The usual suspects were in full force.

As for the metagame, there was lots of Plasma, lots of , and a fair bit of Darkrai. But more surprising than anything was that there was nothing surprising! The two interesting decks I know of that made top 32 were Quad Landorus and RayBoar.

Quad Landorus ramped its way to 5-3 off a fortunate number of Darkrai matches apparently. RayBoar I’m a little more intrigued by.

I wrote a somewhat joking Emboar article not too long ago that concluded the deck was a half-decent anti-meta choice in BLW-PLS. With the advent of Float Stone, RayBoar’s functional problems have been eased as well, though it now faces matchup difficulties with Kyurem PLF. The deck is still an inferior Blastoise at this point due to space issues, but it has the same anti-meta strengths as before.

So what can I say really? Blastoise proved itself to be consistent enough in a 174 person tournament full of fast Plasma decks to reign supreme. The deck has performed well at other National Championships as well.

This format somewhat reminds me of CMT and ZekEels in States/Regionals last year (though with many more viable decks). Plasma is the faster deck that can completely halt a setup, but Blastoise is a deck that can win once setup, and this time it took the Best of 3 more often than not. Or perhaps the results speak more to the quality of the players than to the decks themselves?

It seems there’s a decent amount of drama about the circumstances that were seen during the live stream. I can say that Canadian Nats is nonetheless a very standard North American metagame, and the successes of the decks involved is a good representation of what is likely to be the ratio of US Nats. So without arguing about “who,” prepare for the “what.” Here’s the Top 32 of Canadian Nats. I wouldn’t look too deeply at these results in terms of “what decks did best.” Just look at the representation.

Without further ado…

Table of Contents

  1. Blastoise
  2. RayEels
  3. Klinklang
  4. Deoxys/Plasma Badge/??????
  5. Last Minute Advice
  6. Conclusion

Blastoise

Pokémon – 13

4 Squirtle BCR

3 Blastoise BCR

3 Keldeo-EX

2 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

1 Kyurem PLF/Black Kyurem BCR

0 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Rare Candy

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Superior Energy Retrieval

1 Energy Retrieval

1 Level Ball

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search

0 Heavy Ball

0 Tool Scrapper

0 Max Potion

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 14

11 Water

3 Lightning

Blastoise and I had long since stopped answering each other’s late night text messages. We were blocked on Facebook, and I’ve won custody of the sleeves (Blasty can still see them on Mondays and Tuesdays). But its continued performance has me looking back at it and wondering about what we once had…

black kyurem ex plasma storm pls 95pokemon-paradijs.com
I was ready to write this card off.

However, there was a good reason for that. I was done with Black Kyurem EX. I know the card is good. Perhaps the best card in the format. But there is a serious problem players have to contend with when playing Blastoise//Black Kyurem EX.

Black Kyurem discards its Energy. Though it is incredibly powerful, if you cut off the head, the body will die. In this format, cutting off the head (KOing Blastoise) is easier than ever. There’s Kyurem PLF/ EX which can do so with just two Deoxys on the bench or LaserBank. There’s EX. There’s Absol PLF (which can 1HKO Blastoise with 4 Pokémon on your bench and Dark Claw + LaserBank), as well as Darkrai + Dark Claw + LaserBank. And of course, in the mirror there are Keldeo and Black Kyurem EX.

No matter what you do, if you use Black Kyurem EX to take KOs, you’re vulnerable to having your Blastoise targeted. Combine a Blastoise KO with N and the deck falls apart.

The secret to success with Blastoise is to use Black Kyurem EX as the support, and start the game with Keldeo. If you begin by threatening with Keldeo, then they have to respond to the threat on board, not the support on bench. This gives you time to stabilize your setup and once stable, you can sweep with Black Kyurem EX. This is the ideal game plan at least.

Kyurem PLF is a late inclusion to the deck that I appreciate. Kyurem’s job in this deck is to both be a Klinklang counter and general non-EX attacker. Against Klinklang, Kyurem can 1HKO Cobalion NVI (if they responded to your Blastoise with one), as well as threaten snipe KOs after a Blizzard Burn Klinklangs. Watch out for Heavy Bullets from Klinklang PLS of course. But you’re quite pleased if they’re responding to Kyurem with Klinklang, as it will hopefully have 30 snipe damage and be KO’d by a response 5-Energy Blastoise.

Think about it this way; Blastoise’s choice of non-EX attackers against the Klinklang matchup are resigned to 2HKOing stuff anyway, so why not add snipe to your 2HKO?

Black Kyurem BCR is for the mirror of course.

Originally I was planning on saying more, but Henry kind of stole the words out of my mouth last article. Exeggcute is a serious consideration of mine, but as you can see it’s not actually in my list right now.

RayEels

Pokémon – 15

2 Tynamo NVI 38

2 Tynamo DEX 45

4 Eelektrik NVI

3 Rayquaza-EX DRX

2 Keldeo-EX

1 Raikou-EX

1 Victini NVI 15

0 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

2 Bianca

 

4 Level Ball

4 Ultra Ball

3 Float Stone

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine

0 Tool Scrapper

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

8 Lightning

5 Fire

This version of RayEels is one I introduced back in my last UG article. Back then, I had only just begun testing the idea. Going heavily-in on Keldeo gives you built-in answers to Gothitelle, and also helps facilitate Dragon Bursts turn after turn. Float Stone is also a great tool for Eelektrik, as you can bring up Eelektrik between turns which is a brilliant inclusion for the deck to focus on.

An obvious flaw was how you were at the mercy of your opponent’s LaserBank combos, giving them an uninterrupted advantage. The (somewhat obvious) answer we came up with shortly after my last article was to run Tropical Beach! Congrats Sam, I approve! There are a few things I absolutely love about the Beaches in this deck.

  1. I’ve always had trouble fitting everything into RayEels, as well as ample Supporters. Tropical Beach is an additional early-game draw card.
  2. In the late game, you can Tropical Beach to ensure your victory off an opposing “comeback” N.
  3. Tropical Beach is all you need as a counter-Stadium, as your deck already has its free retreat outs on the field.
  4. Tropical Beach is more versatile than Skyarrow Bridge, which allows you to make more efficient use of your deck space (15 draw outs, 2 counter-Stadiums). Including Tropical Beach in RayEels/Keldeo/Float Stone is a great way to make the most of your 60 cards.
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The snipe can be helpful.

Tynamo DEX worked its way into the list as it gives the deck a way to snipe Kyurems that have retreated to the bench. Tynamo also hits for 10 against Gothitelles and Gothitas on the bench, which allows RayEels to threaten Gothitelle for KOs easier. Sacrificing a Tynamo is an easy decision to make against Accelgor, so you might as well make the most out of that turn of sacrifice.

This list is not running any Tool Scrapper. Though I’m sure that will make an appearance at US Nats, I’d be willing to grant Garbodor the win if I met them in Top 128. I’m pretty sure the odds of facing a Garbodor in top cut are going to be something like 5/127. About 4% of the expected field doesn’t warrant a slot in my 60 card deck.

Who I Would Recommend This Deck For

If you are a player with any byes from Regionals, this is a fine deck choice. RayEels has good prospects once you’re in top cut, but a much more difficult time getting there. The only matchup I feel is really unfavorable for RayEels in this metagame is Garbodor, and I really don’t expect much Garbodor. Everything else is about 50/50 or better!

It’s good to note with this list, that I want to find room for a 4th Float Stone. Having 3 isn’t terrible, but 4 is a nice luxury. RayEels is also a great response to an increase in Blastoise and a decrease in Landorus-EX.

Klinklang

Pokémon – 14

4 Klink DEX

1 Klang DEX

2 Klinklang PLS

2 Klinklang BLW

3 Cobalion-EX

2 Cobalion NVI

 

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 Skyla

4 N

2 Colress

 

4 Rare Candy

4 Heavy Ball

1 Ultra Ball

3 Switch

1 Float Stone

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Max Potion

1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine

0 Tool Scrapper

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

10 Metal

Klinklang is a very interesting anti-meta play right now. There was a lot of hubbub about Klinklang’s matchup vs. Plasma Basics at the beginning of BLW-PLF. However I feel like Klinklang has the slightest of advantages in the matchup, unless they’re running a full 3 Kyurems (and perhaps a Keldeo/Float Stone). And even then, that only really evens things up.

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Has positive matchups against a majority of the metagame, though it comes with some auto-losses too.

Klinklang PLS and Cobalion NVI can both 1HKO Kyurem PLF, so the deck is not without good answers. Not to mention Cobalion-EX’s ability to remove specific coloured Energies, which prevent Kyurem from being able to Blizzard Burn the next turn. Absol has the same problems, except it can be 1HKO’d.

What intrigues me about Klinklang as a play is that it has a positive matchup against Blastoise (especially if they lack a non-EX attacker), and a positive matchup against Darkrai. If Darkrai ran a full 3 Absol, things can even out a bit, but I would still much rather be the Klinklang player in a Best of 3.

And… well… if you have good matchups against Plasma, Darkrai, and Blastoise, then you have good matchups against about 70% of the metagame (if not more). You do have a pretty harsh auto-loss to Gothitelle and RayEels, but both decks are not incredibly popular. Gothitelle is a deck that requires Beach to set up effectively, and thus many players will be turned off of playing it. RayEels is what I feel to be a decent play, but also a risky one. As I said, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have byes heading into Nats.

As for the list above, I have decided to stick to a 2/2 Klinklang split. I feel that Klinklang BLW is equally important (especially against Darkrai and Blastoise), though PlasmaKlang gets major priority in the Plasma matchup. Nonetheless, without a relative guarantee that I will be getting a Klinklang BLW up in the game, your opponent is able to wipe your board of Energy attachments all too often.

I like the freedom that comes with Shift Gear, where I can disperse my attachments and effectively return fire quickly afterward. Shift Gear Klinklang has been a strong deck for a long time even without PlasmaKlang’s support.

2 Cobalion NVI is insurance against donks, overzealous Blastoises and Kyurem PLF. I want to be able to draw into Cobalion NVI when I need it with my current T/S/S lineup, so I feel it is strongest to have 2.

Who I Would Recommend This Deck For

Klinklang is in an interesting position in my metagame analysis to be honest. It has a relatively neutral time getting through Swiss (I wouldn’t expect it to do too well, but I can also see players making it through with Klinklang), but becomes a very strong play in top cut. Why, you ask?

As I mentioned, I feel Klinklang has a slight advantage against Plasma.dec, a strong Darkrai matchup, and a strong Blastoise matchup. Though you suffer auto-losses to a couple decks, they aren’t well represented. Thus, you are poised to go very deep into cut based on probabilities of facing good matchups alone!

My only worry with Klinklang is time. 75-minute top cuts allow enough time that I would still consider the deck, whereas it wouldn’t even be on my radar if top cut were 60 minutes. Klinklang is not a quick deck. Honestly, it’s probably the slowest deck in the format. Even Gothitelle is faster, as at least with Gothitelle your opponent knows they’ve lost and can do nothing but pass after you’ve set up.

With Klinklang, your opponent can always hold on to a hope of winning, and can continue to make your life stressful as you manage your resources to ensure victory. Though you win games convincingly, they are not easy wins. Keep this in mind, and test hard to determine exactly when you should scoop and when you should keep playing.

Please don’t make the mistake of teching a Keldeo-EX or something. It’s gonna screw you over when you go to time (which is gonna happen a lot) and they Black Ballista you to go ahead 2 Prizes right near the end.

Deoxys/Plasma Badge/Cheap Attackers

Pokémon – 11

3 Deoxys-EX

2 Landorus-EX

2 Cobalion-EX

2 Mewtwo-EX

2 Thundurus-EX PLF

0 Mew-EX

0 Rayquaza DRV

0 Combee PLS

0 Reshiram BLW/Larvesta NVI 20

Trainers – 39

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Bianca

2 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Team Plasma Badge

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Ultra Ball

4 Switch

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Max Potion

1 Revive

1 Dowsing Machine

 

1 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

4 Prism

4 Blend WLFM

2 Double Colorless

deoxys-ex-plasma-freeze-plf-53
The DNA of this deck.

This is the first decent rogue deck I’ve been able to come up with in BLW-on since Empoleon/Accelgor at the beginning of the rotation. My original concept for this list was to run it without Lasers and instead use Vileplume BCR. The deck is built on a strong backbone, so it is not over-reliant on Vileplume being up. However when Vileplume did go up, it was game over.

I think I prefer this list though, as Lasers are rarely dead and also a source of additional damage. A thin 2-0-2 (3 Rare Candy) Vileplume is certainly not a consideration to be written off as an inclusion in the deck though.

This deck right here aims for 2HKOs on everything in the format. The concept is similar to the “6 Corners” variants from last year of HS-NVI. However, we have much more potent attackers to do this with nowadays. Not to mention a permanent PlusPower sitting on the bench.

Compared to a standard Plasma build, this deck reaches its damage outputs easier, as it only requires one Energy to attack with your choice attacker. You have 2 of your choice attackers in every matchup, which are relatively easily searched. Often getting 2 Deoxys in play immediately doesn’t matter, as long as you have one in play and get the second in play by the next turn. You don’t really need 3 Deoxys on the bench most times, but situations can arise that demand it.

Also, the overall damage output is greatly improved by Plasma Badge. For instance, with Landorus you can deal 100+30 rather than 90+30 (with just LaserBank) against a Darkrai EX. That’s without LaserBank of course. This power sets up simpler KOs by only needing one Deoxys on the first turn, and only needing one more Deoxys/Laser next turn to finish things off. You’ll deal less without Weakness, but Hammerhead for 50+Laser+30 isn’t too shabby.

Explaining the Attackers

Landorus-EX

Strong against RayEels, Darkrai, and Thundurus EX. Generally a good attacker.

Cobalion-EX

cobalion-ex-plasma-storm-pls-93pokemon-paradijs.com
Your Plasma Kyurem counter.

Strong against Kyurem PLF. Two reflects how tough the matchup can be, and how important it is to secure the matchup this way. Also useful for discarding Special Energies against a variety of decks that run DCE, or perhaps similar concepts to this deck (ex: Garbodor/Big Basics).

Mewtwo EX

Mewtwo is still a very good card. People often forget this. Against Pokémon that are set up, Mewtwo swings for 2HKOs without the need for Weakness or anything silly like that. Mewtwo is here as a coverage attacker so you’re not stuck to only 2 good attackers in any particular matchup. Psychic-type damage can also be a plus.

Mew-EX

Mew-EX makes a strong alternative to Mewtwo for Psychic-type coverage. Mew is strong against the Gothitelle matchup (Hammerhead for donk + 30), Deoxys, Mewtwo, and also useful as an additional copy of the attack of your choice. Whether that might be Righteous Edge or Raiden Knuckle in a time of need, Hammerhead, Dragon Pulse, or Sting Missile. Perhaps even an opponent’s Deck and Cover!

Thundurus EX

Strong against Tornadus-EX PLF and Lugia EX. Also useful for Energy acceleration (Plasma Badge), and can be combined with Mew to hit for more useful Weakness while accelerating Energy. The deck falls apart without Thundurus to be honest. You need one cheap attacker that doesn’t require additional setup. The acceleration is also a big part of how it can keep up with today’s quick pace of play.

Rayqauaza DRV

I consider Rayquaza a tech right now. It’s there for RayEels and Black Kyurem EX. Rayquaza is also useful for a higher base-damage attack (that Mew-EX could copy), which can be important when combined with previous snipes. Rayquaza is also one of the only attackers the deck has against PlasmaKlang.

Combee PLS

combee-plasma-storm-pls-4pokemon-paradijs.com
Putting the sting on Squirtles.

A quirky attacker. Combee is useful against Blastoise and Keldeo-EX. Combee’s Sting Missile is also a great way to attack with Mew-EX while not leaving an easy two Prizes on the field (much less losing a Prism and a Plasma Badge). Sting Missile is also a great attack for such a weak attacker to have, as you won’t be leaving Combee in play to be KO’d (meaning 1 Combee goes a bit more distance against Blastoise/Keldeo).

Combee can donk Squirtles without support, and can hit for decent damage against Keldeo/Blastoise.

Reshiram BLW/Larvesta NVI 20

Reshiram is my preferred Klinklang counter. Larvesta’s Take Down for 30 is the strongest Fire-type attack available for only one Energy card (though you do additional self-damage with Take Down using Plasma Badge). Reshiram BLW would normally be a sub-par counter to Klinklang. However with Plasma Badge, they can’t simply refrain from attacking until they’re set up. Reshiram will be dealing ~80 damage + Lasers during the process.

Victini is an option for the deck as well, but has difficulty continuing its assault due to Righteous Edge. Chimchar is unfortunately the best non DCE-charged fire type attacker, which hits for 20 for R.

Matchups

This deck is fairly evaluated as a Tier 2 deck. It has a fair matchup against half of Tier 1. It has a bad time against Garbodor, especially if they run Cobalion-EX. However you can donk with Mewtwo so it is possible to try and keep Garbodor from hitting the field (or at least lasting). It also has a poor match against Blastoise, and a tough time against Klinklang without techs.

The interesting thing is, you can always tech the deck to suit your needs. In a local metagame, this deck could be a very strong play. But at Nationals, you are really rolling the dice.

I think the main point I want to drive home is that the deck is definitely a legitimate threat, but not quite well-rounded enough. It’s occupying the same realm as Flareon.

The problem is, if you cover for one matchup, you sacrifice another. You CAN play thin 1-of lines of your tech attackers, but at that point you have to start questioning if there’s a better way to go about the metagame. If you can find a list or focus that works for you (or if you’re looking to play something and interesting), then I can genuinely recommend giving it a whirl!

Last Minute Advice

I’ve noticed a few interesting decisions that other players make in this format. I also have a friend who just started the game this year, who is a very quick learner, and has provided me with a lot of insight on some troubling plays that players have to make.

So as a bunch of stand-alone points, here are some tidbits of advice (feel free to debate).

When to Colress on the First Turn

colress-plasma-storm-pls-118pokemon-paradijs.com
The odds might surprise you.

This is a play that I have seen many people make in playtesting, and even in my Nats tournament. It’s certainly food for thought.

With Colress being so undeniably strong in the late-game, it’s a near auto-inclusion in every deck at this point. However this also runs the risk of starting with one of your two Colress as your only Supporter. In this situation, should you YOLO and Colress right away? Or should you wait and perhaps get a stronger Colress on your next turn?

I think if you’re going 2nd in the game, then a first-turn Colress is often quite justified. Your opponent has already played their Basics, and things aren’t going to get much better on your next turn most likely. As long as you are not reducing the number of cards in hand, it would be unwise to refrain from using Colress.

However if you’re going 1st in the game, things get a bit trickier. To make my point clearly, I’ll just provide this reference table of probabilities. These are the chances that you get a Supporter from your deck after a Colress to ‘X’ on the first turn. I’ve got two tables to show the number of Supporters in deck, one of which is used up in Colress’ing for ‘X.’

I’ll also assume you have played a generous total of 7 cards from your hand to the field/discard in some manner (Pokémon, Items, Energy, Colress). Thus, the remaining deck/prizes size is 60 – 7 cards = 53. I include your 2nd turn’s worth of draw in the odds of drawing a Supporter.

If you have had a chance to check for your Prizes, you can use a more accurate number of Supporters in your consideration, but hopefully this is still useful as a base. These probabilities also decrease the fewer cards you have played onto the field/discard.

15 Total Supporters/Draw Outs

Colress for ‘X’ Odds of Drawing a Supporter
1 46%
2 61%
3 72%

14 Total Supporters/Draw Outs

Colress for ‘X’ Odds of Drawing a Supporter
1 43%
2 58%
3 69%

To be honest, I’m actually surprised by these numbers. I felt a Colress to two (plus draw on the next turn) would leave you with a pretty poor chance of getting a Supporter off it. But apparently it’s better than a coin flip! It’s also good to note that of those 14 remaining Supporters you might draw, it may be another Colress or Skyla. So take the strength of these probabilities with a grain of salt.

colress geniusluvpie1997.tumblr.com
E = mc2

Still, in considering the Colress to ‘X,’ you should also consider the potential for your opponent to bench Basics. If they bench one Basic, your total cards seen (assuming you don’t get a Supporter) is the same if you wait a turn, or if you straight up go for it.

If they bench more than one Pokémon, you have looked through an additional card than what you otherwise would have with your early Colress. This may be a card you want to play that turn (like an Energy), which you would otherwise miss if you ran into a Skyla and had to Skyla for another Supporter. But even running the numbers without considering Skyla, a Colress to 2 + draw has at least 51% chance of hitting another non-Skyla Supporter.

One last important thing to note about these numbers is that they don’t distinguish the Prizes and the deck. As 15 Supporters is one quarter of a deck, if you can confirm only having one Supporter prized, then your deck has slightly better probabilities than the numbers above! And if you have 2 Supporters prized, it has slightly worse probabilities. If you have the misfortune of having 3+ Supporters prized, you might be justified in stressing more caution with an early Colress.

So I actually surprised myself on this one. Kudos to my opponents who have adopted the strategy of immediately Colress’ing. It is a much stronger play than I felt it was (especially since on average, you get to run through more cards on your second turn, rather than just hit the Supporter).

Establishing Board Position

A general truth of the Pokémon TCG is that games are won and lost on the ability to establish board position. This is all the more important in a format with Rocket’s Admin/N in it, where disrupting the opponent’s hand is extremely easy to do. Things to keep in mind:

1. Disperse your Energy attachments if possible, such that you always have a potential attacker ready to go next turn. Try to not let your field be wiped of Energy. This problem is exacerbated by the current 1HKO format.

2. Deck choice dictates what sort of board position you are capable of obtaining. Gothitelle or Klinklang are more obvious “auto-win” conditions against a variety of decks compared to decks like Darkrai or Plasma. Be conscious of how your deck goes about checkmating an opponent. More importantly, be aware of how your opponent’s deck goes about checkmating yours. Play accordingly.

3. Keep track of your opponent’s number of Ns, Catchers and Lasers used. Against a deck running specific Energies like Plasma, keep track of their Prisms/Blends/Plasma Energies. This is basic stuff, but it’s nonetheless extremely important.

4. Be mindful of bench space if using Keldeo/Float Stone. It can be a great inclusion to prevent potential Catcher/Laser shenanigans, but I’ve found many decks running the combo are vulnerable to losing all Energy in play, as they fill their bench and have room for only a couple attackers who can be wiped out over the course of 2 turns.

The Tech That Takes Nationals by Storm

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He’s laying low… for now.

Mr. Mime is the most underrated card of Plasma Freeze. It hasn’t found its way into any of my lists yet, but I feel that’s because the metagames I have faced have not been developed in such a way to deserve a Mr. Mime tech. However, Mr. Mime is a brilliant inclusion to force a Catcher on an otherwise snipable target. Darkrai EX, Kyurem PLF, Landorus-EX, and Raikou-EX are all cards that completely change a matchup, that can be stopped by Mr. Mime.

Granted, only 2 of those are highly played right now. But I would view a Mr. Mime tech as being almost as worthwhile as a 1-of Max Potion tech. It’s a card that greatly improves the Darkrai matchup, improves the Plasma matchup a bit, and is useless against everything else. But even with that said, do you consider Max Potion as a 1-of in your lists?

That’s where the room for Mr. Mime comes from. And Mr. Mime is more searchable.

A Tool for Metagame Analysis

Back in BLW-PLS I noticed the metagame trending extensively toward matchups. The viable decks one could play all had auto-losses, some unfavourable matchups, and some favourable matchups. To help paint a clearer picture of what deck I should be running to try and win a tournament, I wrote up an Excel sheet and came up with a ranking system to objectively analyze the metagame.

The tables provide a sum value for each deck that is either positive or negative. A positive sum means the deck has net favorable matchups against the metagame. A negative sum means the deck has net unfavorable matchups against the metagame. The table reads left to right. Thus along a row, the row contains the matchup strengths according to the deck in the row, not the columns.

Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 9.47.31 AM
So as an example, here Plasma has a slightly favorable Darkrai matchup, a slightly unfavorable Gothitelle matchup, an even Blastoise matchup, etc…

A general guide to the matchup rankings system:

  • 0 = even matchup
  • 1 = 55/45 split
  • 2 = 60/40 split
  • 3 = 65/35+ split

I also encourage you to look at these matchups for your specific list across the general metagame. For instance, I might feel my Plasma List is slightly favorable against Darkrai, but I could also rank my Darkrai list as having an even matchup against Plasma in its own row.

The representation line is the expected metagame proportions. This number should be input as a decimal value. So for instance, if you expect the metagame to be 30% Plasma, you would put “0.3” in the box above Plasma.

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 10.35.52 AM
So here, I’ve said the metagame will be 30% Plasma, 20% Darkrai, etc…

The second table below the first is the product of the matchup and its expected representation. By adding up all the products, you get a sum that speaks to the deck’s general matchups.

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So given the values in Table 1, and the projected representation numbers, here Table 2 is telling me the strongest plays through Swiss are Plasma, Blastoise, and RayEels.

I have also included a second table for the top cut, which should be approached in a different respect. First off, top cut matches are Best of 3, so minor advantages in a matchup can present themselves multiple times. For instance, though I would say Plasma only has a -0.5 matchup against Gothitelle, I might say it has a -1 matchup in top cut, since Gothitelle only has to perform in 2/3 games.

Additionally, top cut has 75 minute rounds this year, which leaves slightly less time than a player would get in the Swiss for playing 3 games. I have slightly factored time into my table in altering matchup numbers, but not much. I’ve also added a note next to decks where time is a major factor, so as not to be distracted by highly positive numbers.

The idea behind providing this Excel sheet to you guys is not to give you my projected matchups, etc… for US Nationals. My data I input was for Canadian Nationals (where I expected more Gothitelle due to French Tropical Beaches, felt certain matchups were slightly more or less favourable, etc…). My intention is to give you a way to objectively analyze your own deck choice.

If you take this idea on board, I want to stress a few things:

  1. Be honest about matchups. Don’t let your personal attachments to a deck cloud your judgement of its true tendency to win a matchup.
  2. Playing off #1, don’t look at your conclusions and think “This deck isn’t that terrible a play. I should adjust the ____ matchup because I’m iffy on that.” For instance, I find that Darkrai has negative matchups against the metagame. It’s a strong Tier 1 deck (though I agree with Henry that it’s the weakest Tier 1 deck). But this table might help elucidate why it might be seeming underwhelming in testing.
  3. The largest sums in Table 1 (Swiss) are not a representation of what the top cut will be. For instance, the table above lists Blastoise as the strongest play at 0.25, and RayEels at 0.2, with Plasma at 0.125. But player skill has far more to do with making top cut than deck choice. Just because you expect a proportion of decks in Swiss, doesn’t mean you can expect the same proportion in top cut.
  4. Working off #3, generate a new expected representation for top cut. Since the numbers should be definite for US Nats (128 total decks), you can sit down and think “Well, I expect about 50 Plasma to make it, 30 Blastoise, 20 Darkrai, 10 Goth, etc…” And take those numbers and divide by 128 to reach your projected top cut representation.

So there you go. For interest’s sake, I have filled in the Excel sheet with my projections for the US metagame, but you should definitely look them over for yourself and adjust any values you might disagree with given your own testing. This is especially important considering your personal list of a deck may test more or less favorably against the metagame than my personal list of the same deck.

I’ve also left a column and row open in both tables to input any fringe deck you’re considering/worrying about. My fringe deck being analyzed just before Canadian Nats was Kyurem/Deoxys/Keldeo, with an emphasis on Exp. Share to stream Kyurems. I think Henry just discussed this deck on Tuesday.

I felt its Darkrai matchup suffered compared to a traditional TDK list, and that it could have major problems with a 4-Energy Keldeo. The deck just kind of loses steam because it has such a hard time streaming Kyurems (Exp Share helps with this). I found in the few test games where we considered it, that Kyurem/Deoxys/Keldeo could race ahead and get an early Prize lead.

But the opponent could play around Exp. Share using Poison damage. The deck stumbled and failed to keep up with Energy attachments, and could be swept from there since Colress Machines are finite, and Frost Spear is underwhelming as a main attack.

So yes! Here is the Excel sheet. Play around with it, let me know if you like the idea, and I hope it helps you with your Nationals deck choice!

Conclusion

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I hope to be writing for you again soon!

There you have it folks. This’ll be my last article for a while. I’ll be heading to Grinders, and I’m really looking forward to the Best of 3 format that it will offer. Though there may only be 8 invites up for grabs, I’m looking forward to gunning for one. I am sure that the competition will be fierce, but we’ll just have to see how things go.

I hope this article has been useful, and the discussion thought-provoking. Let me know what you think of the matchups table, and if you think that it is a useful tool to have! And of course, if you felt this article was helpful, please be sure to +1 it and let me know!

I’ll be continuing to write for my blog www.tcgwithhats.com, but may not hit the pages of SixPrizes too much in the near future. I intend to try and revive my old 30,000+ subscriber YouTube channel with this extra time, which was hacked a couple years back. So if you are looking to learn how to skateboard, feel free to subscribe!

Cheers,

Mark Hanson signing off


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