Hey all, my name’s Marcel, and I’d like to share with you some of my experiences at this year’s Australian Nationals – the first Nationals I’ve ever competed in.
Three of my friends and I made the trek to Melbourne earlier this year to put our newly-found Pokémon TCG skills to the test – we’ve only been playing competitively for a year and, until Nationals, hadn’t competed in anything on a larger scale than Battle Roads.
Although I will focus more on my build, I will briefly go through my friends’ decks and their places after the seven-round Swiss on the first day:
- James Goreing – Blastoise/Keldeo – 60th place
- Billy Coles – TDK (Plasma) – 33rd place
- Alex Cameron – Big Basics (Landorus-EX/Tornadus-EX DEX/Cobalion-EX) – 87th
All four of us had done a huge amount of play-testing in preparation for Nationals (we built all of the meta decks to play against at home), and thus made heaps of changes to our initial deck lists. Unfortunately, with so many high-end players at Nationals (with 128 participants in Masters alone, which is huge for an Australian tournament), a lot of games were lost due to either bad matchups or bad draws. I happen to know that James opened with a lone Exeggcute twice in one round, but somehow managed to pull the game back and win 2-1.
Despite this, the win/loss ratio was where we had aimed it to be – we were happy to get more than 50% wins on the day. James and Billy both went 4-3, but due to their player match ups, somehow ended up 27 places apart. Alex, however, had 3 wins and 4 losses, which sits a little under the 50% goal, but we all learnt a lot about our skills and now know that we can come into next years Nationals with more knowledge than we did this year.
What I Played
Now, to talk about my deck and my matchups, which (without sounding arrogant), landed me in 15th place after the Swiss rounds, putting me in the Top 32, and was described by some as “the most unique deck in top cut.” Unfortunately, I got eliminated in the first round of the finals.
I was extremely undecided on which deck to play at Nationals. I’d been testing multiple decks for about a month beforehand, including FluffyChomp (Altaria DRX/Garchomp DRX 90), a rogue Ninetales DRX/Mew-EX/Lasers build, and a PlusPower/Lasers Big Basics which got me to 3rd place at the most recent Battle Roads. In the end, I decided to redesign my Battle Roads deck, and here’s the list I was happy with for Nationals:
Pokémon – 14
1 Mewtwo EX
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
3 Double Colourless
You’ll notice that this build is a little left-wing of the more traditional Lasers/Garbodor/Big Basics build. I’ll go through some of the reasons why I included and didn’t include certain cards.
I’ve seen a few of these going around in Big Basics recently. They’re great against a lot of decks due to the prominence of Special Energy, and they also 1HKO a lot of pesky non-EX attackers/stallers with Steel Bullet, such as Bouffalant DRX and Sigilyph DRX. 100 damage is also a great big hit for 2HKOing most Pokémon in the current meta.
This guy is what saved me a lot of games. Energy Press is a great attack against Keldeo-EX and Kyurem PLF due to Weakness (these were two matchups I was having particular trouble with). Aside from that, the combination of Garbotoxin and Iron Breaker forces the Defending Pokémon to either stall out or switch out, burning their resources in terms of Energy attachments and/or Trainers (Switch/Scramble Switch/Escape Rope). This semi-frozen state usually allowed me an extra turn to power up a bigger attacker.
On top of all that, attaching an Eviolite to Cobalion makes him considerably more difficult to KO, and being non-EX, the Prize exchange is beautiful.
He used to be one of the best attackers in the format, scared off only by Eels/Zekrom decks. Unfortunately, his reign of terror is almost over – all due to Thundurus EX. As much as I love this guy, I had to cut him down to a 1-of in this build, simply because he takes anywhere between 60 and 120 damage from a Thundurus EX with one Energy attached, which, simply put, sucks.
Mainly for consistency with setting up Garbodor, but also to get that one Laser I included or an energy I might need for a bigger hit. I seriously considered Dowsing Machine, but after testing a lot, I decided that Computer Search was a better option.
The main focus of this deck is to use your once-per-turn Energy attachment to its full potential. I wanted to be able to get the Energy on the board and then keep it there. To do so, I invested quite heavily in Energy Switch and Exp. Share.
Energy Switch is the reason why the deck runs mainly basic Energies, and the consistency I gained from them was beautiful. Being able to switch from one attacker to the next, essentially gaining an attachment due to Energy Switching to it, was very beneficial in almost all of my games.
I included a singular Laser in this build, because I noticed I was often 10 HP away from a crucial KO. Things like Kyurem PLF, taking 2 hits of 60 from a Cobalion-EX, and EXs with 170 HP after 2 Iron Breakers. I would have liked to have 2, but there just wasn’t room for it.
This was included for the same reason it was included in Dark Trance/Shift Gear decks – to get all the Energy off of a Pokémon, heal it, and sometimes get that Pokémon back into an attacking position. It worked extremely well with my investment in Energy Switch.
3 Double Colourless Energy
Despite there being only two Pokémon in this build that actually utilize DCE (Mewtwo EX and Tornadus EX), and knowing that it can’t be Energy Switched or Exp. Shared, I included 3 for the attackers that can use it, but also for a more efficient and a quicker way to retreat, where both Cobalions (EX and NVI) have 2 Retreat Cost, and Landorus-EX and Garbodor have 3.
Although it is a staple in almost every deck, I subbed the Tool Scrapper out of this build. I found that most of the decks than ran tools I needed to Scrap were powered down enough by Garbotoxin, and it seemed like I was always discarding it through Ultra Ball or Professor Juniper anyway.
I decided that I wanted a more consistent build that didn’t get Energy drought, and to do that, I had to cut something. With the attackers I chose for the deck, Lasers would not have been super-beneficial – most things would still take two hits to KO. Thus, I used the 6-7 slots for other Trainers.
Despite his huge attacking prowess, I found Bouffalant to be a little sub-par without his outstanding Ability and Laser/Virbank support. Because of this, and the fact that he relies quite heavily on DCE, I decided to cut him from the build.
On to the Games!
I had quite a good range of opponents and decks throughout the tournament, which really put my deck and playing skills to the test. My matchups were as follows (apologies to the people I played, I cannot remember all of your names, so I thought it was best not to include any):
This was a very interesting and difficult deck to play against. I had to really think about my attacks and attackers. I used mainly Cobalion-EX and Landorus-EX; Cobalion-EX to slowly deplete his Plasma and Double Colourless Energies, and Landorus-EX to hit big to Thundurus EX. However, due to Tornadus EX’s Fighting Resistance, I had to Catcher around it and place Hammerhead damage on it while it was on the bench.
I managed to win against this deck due to the sheer force of my build, but the type matchups, and the fact that Garbodor was next to useless in this game, were difficult to deal with. I also fell victim to a first turn Jet Blast for 120 damage, which is never fun.
Another interesting build, but unfortunately for my opponent, I managed to tear through him both games for a 2-0 win, because he didn’t have room to include Tool Scrapper and I was either hitting Weakness damage or knocking off his Special Energy.
I can definitely see how the deck has potential and hits real hard against most other decks (3 Deoxys + Laser/Virbank + Gold Breaker = 180 damage = 1HKO every EX bar Eviolite), but the matchup was quite bad for him.
Round 3 vs. Gothitelle/Accelgor
For those of you who are familiar with Gothitelle/Accelgor builds, you’ll understand why winning against this one was a struggle for me. I tried to set up my Garbodors first game, but after realising that they had a few tools to counter Garbotoxin – which they saved specifically for this purpose – I played way more aggressively in the second game.
Landorus-EX was my saving grace, and although it was a long, tedious, difficult match, I managed to win 2-1, one game due to my opponent having two prized Accelgors, and the other due to him making an unfortunate, but conservative play decision, which dropped his lock for a turn.
Round 4 vs. Darkrai/Absol
There are reasons why Darkrai/Absol is such a powerhouse – its speed and consistency. Despite my investment in Landorus-EX and Garbodor, I couldn’t keep up with my opponent, and lost, 2-1, in a sudden death match. I don’t have much else to say about this game, most Darkrai/Absol match ups have been picked to pieces.
Round 5 vs. Gothitelle/Accelgor
This round was pretty similar to my other Gothitelle/Accelgor match, but I’d picked up a few tricks from the last game that I put into play against this deck. Utilizing Landorus-EX’s spread damage from Hammerhead early game saved me, as it was 2-turn KOs on 2 Pokémon early game, and residual 30 damage left on Gothitelles gave them a magical 100 HP left, leaving them within 1HKO range for Tornadus EX and Cobalion-EX.
Round 6 vs. Darkrai/Absol
Again, a similar game to the one I went through earlier. Unfortunately for my opponent, I got some very good draws, and he made some defensive plays that I counter-played with ease.
Keldeo-EX/Black Kyurem EXRound 7 vs. Blastoise/
I’m not even sure if it’s worth writing about this game. To be extremely frank about it, I got destroyed. His build was ridiculously consistent, and I simply couldn’t get into a good position. It was the quickest round of the day.
Top 32 vs. TDK (Plasma)
I went into this game quite confidently, because I’d practiced a lot against TDK variants since I knew they’d be everywhere. I managed to lose to this build due to a top-decked Colress Machine after time was called, which allowed him to Catcher-KO an EX for 2 Prize cards, where I was only in a position to take one. The two matches before time were very evenly-matched.
Thundurus EX isn’t much of a threat to my deck, but trading 1-for-2 Prize cards to take out his attacking Kyurems really crippled me as I simply couldn’t build to a Landorus, due to Weakness, until I had made sure their threat was over. Despite my inclusion of powerful Metal-type attackers, I just couldn’t bring this round to an overall win.
It was unfortunate, but it was a very intense battle of wits. Just how top cut matches should be.
Overall, my 3 friends and I all had a great time. I know that Billy and James played in the Metronome tournament while I was busy being eliminated from top cut, which they said was a lot of fun, too. Alex was sleeping.
I was extremely happy with how my deck ran over the two days, and although I was Knocked Out of top cut in the first round, I still managed to come somewhere between 23rd and 20th. It’s safe to say that I’m pleased about that, especially considering it was my first Nationals!