Hello again SixPrizes. Today I bring you the first Underground article about the NXD-on format!
Personally, I’m not a fan of reading reports. Considering that the majority of our subscribers aren’t going to Worlds, I think I should try to distance myself from talking about Nats to death and give you guys what you want to hear!
I’ll talk about the Worlds format and recap what has changed in the post-US Nats metagame, but that’s about it. From there I’ll move straight into Genesect, as well as two other potential contenders for NXD-on.
Table of Contents
- US Nationals Recap
- NXD and Beyond
US Nationals Recap
At US Nationals my run ended in top 32 with what I consider to be a perfect version of Blastoise. This isn’t an article about Nats though, so I promise I’ll keep this recap short.
I spent most of the week with my friends from other parts of the country. After a night of testing modified decks I decided that my list was perfect and I needed to focus on having fun instead (that is the reason I still come to Pokémon events, after all). At the last minute I decided to stick Energy Search into my list at the urging of Jon Bristow, one of my main testing partners from New England, making our lists one card different (I ran Exeggcute whereas he ran what I believe was Max Potion).
So, I ran the same Blastoise list I featured in my last Underground article with one less Lightning Energy and a single copy of Energy Search in its place. I went into the tournament feeling good. I was sitting on a 2-0 record before anyone even started playing yet (thanks to a couple of byes). I knew I only had to go 4-3 in order to secure top cut.
I had wins over a Darkrai, two Plasma decks, and a Quad Snorlax (which came as a coin flip away from donking my Egg) to grasp my 6-1 record on the first day, virtually guaranteeing top cut. My losses came from Dan Richard’s Life Dew Plasma, Nick Capobianco’s Eel/Mewtwo EX/Zekrom-EX and Dustin Zimmerman’s Darkrai/Absol. I was steamrolled by the latter two, but I played a long and thought provoking game against Dan.
Life Dew in Plasma
After seeing how close the Richard brothers are to the Sabelhaus brothers, I realized I probably played against a list similar to the 2nd place finisher’s deck. This is my take on Dew Plasma, inspired by the game I played against it and watching Ryan Sabelhaus in the finals.
I’m pretty sure this is close to the exact list he actually played. I really, really like the style taken here. I don’t think any other Plasma list was so ahead of the metagame. He certainly deserved to place as high as he did.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 36
1 Life Dew
Energy – 13
Honestly, I think Dew will be a one-hit wonder.
When Life Dew hits the table under a Kyurem or an Absol it automatically puts the other player in a poor position. They have to either Knock Out the threat Pokémon for no Prize gain or ignore the threat by drawing into Catcher every turn. Generally, the opponent either must deal with the Pokémon Life Dew is attached to at some point during the game putting the player in an unfavorable position in the prize race. Basically, the “7 Prize” rule that you have heard so much about can easily become the “8 Prize” game that you never want to be forced to play.
However, Life Dew has become common knowledge and players are teaching accordingly. Tool Scrapper is already being talked about as a viable inclusion in almost every deck in the format. If I were a Plasma player I would not want to potentially lose my ACE SPEC to a simple Tool Scrapper. I feel like Scrapper will be in abundance at Worlds, making Life Dew a poor metagame call at the moment.
However the deck’s relevance for Worlds remains to be seen. Gothitelle certainly showed its strength and my testing continues to show how hard Gothitelle rocks this deck. The worst part? Plasma has literally no good options to deal with the deck.
I also want to mention that I feel Garbodor is another very bad play simply because of the rise of Life Dew. Tool Scrapper will be played to combat Life Dew while also having a secondary use against any Garbodor deck.
It amazes me how much one card can alter a metagame. Because Life Dew had its day at US Nationals, Tool Scrapper is once again seeing play as a counter while also hurting the playability of Garbodor. As a result, Blastoise may see a resurgence at Worlds. Blastoise has good matchups all around and has a good chance of beating what many are calling the BDIF, Gothitelle.
Life Dew is a risky call in a Plasma Deck. The ACE SPEC is generally the single most powerful Trainer card in a person’s deck. The fact that anyone can play Scrapper and ruin your Dew is a very real risk of playing the card.
Other than the inclusion of Life Dew, there is nothing remarkable about new age Plasma. There are heaps of paragraphs written on the deck and you probably won’t learn anything new from me talking about it. I’ll cut this short and move on to…
Gothitelle’s Rise to Tier 1
The deck of Edmund Kuras, the National Champion. The undisputed BDIF in my opinion. There is little stopping it. Historically the deck that wins US Nationals doesn’t win Worlds, and sometimes it doesn’t even make top 4.
Gothitelle is a different beast though. The big decks – Blastoise, TDK, Darkrai, and even Klinklang – all fell to Goth by the end of the 3rd day of the Nationals grind. Without techs, none of them can beat Gothitelle more than 50% of the time. Even Darkrai running 2 Keldeo-EX only have 3 turns to work after the lock is established, assuming the worst case scenario: Catcher Keldeo, Deck and Cover with Accelgor, followed up with another Deck and Cover, finishing with a Catcher on the other Keldeo-EX to lock in into the active spot.
This is THE deck to beat at Worlds. However, there is no clear way to hate it out.
The more famous methods of “beating” Gothitelle include Audino BCR, 2 Keldeo-EX, and a method of retreating for free, Espeon DEX and Ninetales DRX. They all only work for a limited amount of time. Even if you can use the turns these cards buy to disable the Deck and Cover combo (either by eliminating Accelgor or Gothitelle) you will probably not get so far ahead that Goth can’t re-establish the lock and continue to keep you from playing the game.
I have heard many people are resorting to Goth themselves, and honestly, I don’t think it’s such a bad idea. After all, you have a 50-50 matchup against the best deck in format! But for most, that isn’t good enough. That’s where mirror techs come in. The best of these is probably a single Keldeo-EX in Gothitelle. It lets you get greater value out of a single Float Stone and it allows you to retreat out of your opponent’s Paralysis lock in a pinch, using a DCE if need be.
I do believe that every single successful Gothitelle player will play a tech for the mirror match in his or her list (and you should too).
Another method is to use Snorlax PLS. It makes Keldeo-EX virtually useless in mirror if your opponent decides to play it as a soft counter to your deck. While it buys you an indefinite amount of time to set up your lock in theory, it is practically useless if your opponent already has their Goth down (because Snorlax will be stranded without Float Stone attached, which is either a death sentence for you or an extremely awkward position for your opponent if they have no Catcher left).
Overall I don’t think Snorlax is worth it. Its usefulness is significantly lowered if your opponent has their Goth down before you get Snorlax active with a Float Stone attached. So… if your opponent has no Goth why would you want to even bother with Snorlax? Get your own Gothitelle down and just win the game already!
From my testing, the player stuck without Float Stone on the board will almost always lose the game. If Float Stone has hit both sides of the table then the matchup is much harder to play and even harder to put into writing. It is determined by a combination of getting lucky, intense planning, getting Sinister Hand online and continuing to lock, all at the same time.
As far as lists go, I think the best and most consistent one is that of Sam Liggett, posted on your very own SixPrizes only a few days ago. Try his out and consider modifying it to better deal with the mirror match. Read his report too.
You can’t afford to underestimate Gothitelle.
Advice for the Grinder
The Last Chance Qualifier (“The Grinder”) for short is the most brutal tournament of the year. Every year, the day before Worlds, a new record must be set for the number of people crying at a Pokémon tournament. I’ve been there too. In 2010 I was donked by a Jumpluff during the first round of the event after flying to Hawaii.
It was a fantastic trip regardless, but I launched an hour long tirade and just wanted to complain about my loss to anyone who would pretend to listen.
I’d never do it again. For me, grinding was a horrible experience and it just isn’t worth it in a format like we have now. There is too much at stake and far too much of it is determined by the luck of the draw.
However, if you find yourself in Vancouver on the 9th of August, don’t play Plasma.
…or anything with an auto-loss for that matter.
Hitting one bad matchup will likely ruin your day. Even if you get lucky and win one game, they have two more shots to bring you down. Of course, in order to grind into Worlds, you need some amount of luck. If you must concede a bad matchup or two, make sure they’re not against Blastoise or Gothitelle, the two strongest decks in best 2 of 3 games. Because they’ve been historically strong in these rounds, there is likely to be loads of both decks. Tropical Beach isn’t a limiting factor at this tournament either, considering that every language of Beach will be represented among the diverse population of Worlds invitees.
I’d probably choose one of the aforementioned decks if I was forced to play in this tournament, those being Blastoise and Gothitelle. Whatever you pick, be sure it is equipped to beat Gothitelle at very least. It won US Nationals and there is no way it won’t be heavily represented in the Grinder.
That’s about all there is to say about Worlds. When no revelations come out of US Nationals other than Life Dew in Plasma you know you have a stale format.
NXD and Beyond
As anyone living above ground already knows, the 2013-2014 format was recently announced on the official Pokémon website along with some other huge news. That format is indeed Next Destinies-on. However, another big surprise was included in the very same announcement that certainly excites me. Pokémon alluded to a new format coming to the Western world in late 2014 (probably after Worlds I would speculate). To me, this means many things.
First, Pokémon recognizes that more money could be made from by keeping old product relevant. I’ve met people who find it hard to accept that their old cards will not be legal forever and this tends to be a turnoff for them when getting into the game, especially when there is a level of nostalgia attached to the little pieces of cardboard. I always hate getting rid of old cards because, although I know there is no value in keeping them, I like to keep them around to build decks with when I just feel like playing a different format. Now there is actually a competitive reason to hold onto rotating cards and I’m sure that’s what Pokémon wants.
Second, this is a sign that Pokémon TCG as a franchise is growing! If Pokémon has the resources to manage a second format successfully then this is a sure sign of other good things to come for us players.
I’m very happy the Western Pokémon company is finally showing a spark of interest in alternate formats. I’ve always been a fan of other formats, fan created or otherwise. I’ve been hoping to at least see Japan’s special Palace Format come to our shores.
In fact, I conceptualized a format we in New England call “stack” (named after a Magic format with similar rules) that has gotten moderately popular. I even played Pokémon Rumble at Nationals!
Of course, this format means nothing until we hear more about it. Thus, it is delegated to the backburner.
What most people care about is NXD-on!
You may realize that this article may slightly emphasize quantity over top tier quality. If you haven’t noticed already, I’m throwing a lot of different ideas and thoughts at you at once. This is because the format is still young. We’re still in the brainstorming period as far as I’m concerned. I’ve only done basic testing in this format and that testing is what I intend to share in the meat of this article. There are many viable decks, among them are TDK, Genesect/Virizion and Hydreigon. I’m not implying that the lists won’t be good, but I’m just insisting that they’re not as refined as they will be 2 months from now.
As I said, this is the FIRST Underground article with anything about the NXD-on format in it at all.
The meat of this article will certainly be centered around Genesect. I’ve played with and against it more than any other deck and I can safely say I know my way around the archetype with confidence.
Energy Switch was recently announced as a card included in Japan’s Battle Boost set. Almost like Call of Legends, this set will probably be our fall set or have its cards peppered in both Plasma Blast and our X and Y set.
Although the set is mostly comprised of reprints (and very beautiful ones at that – have you seen the Garchomp?) I don’t feel that Pokémon can simply exclude these cards from the Western audience as some people are speculating. There are just too many relevant reprints that will be legal in Japan for Worlds 2015 that will not be legal here if we don’t end up seeing any of the cards from this set.
In my speculative opinion, either we will see many of these cards as promos or they will be integrated into sets (perhaps as a Dragon Vault-esque side set).
Energy Switch, as an announced Japanese reprint, will probably not end up as a stand alone promo and will probably have to be integrated into a set sometime in the future. For these reasons I will assume Energy Switch (a key card in Genesect and Darkrai decks) will not be legal for Battle Roads, but I will also say what I would do to include the card if it is, by chance, reprinted before Battle Roads.
Genesect and All Its Friends
This seems like the deck everybody seems to be talking about these days. It boasts virtual immunity to Laser, Energy acceleration, an attack similar to Night Spear and an ACE SPEC that allows the deck to do 200 damage in a single attack.
Personally, I think this deck is overhyped.
In reality, G Booster is an extremely frail card.
With the rising relevance of Tool Scrapper, having G Booster attached to Genesect is dangerous. If the ACE SPEC ever finds itself in the discard pile the threat level Genesect poses to the opponent drops significantly.
Without being able to wipe threats off the board Genesect can only trade with opposing EXs.
I think people are being far too ambitious with their plans for the cybernetic Plasma bug. In my opinion, the deck needs something else.
The Grass type isn’t exactly rich with options right now, so I believe the best card to run alongside Genesect and Virizion is a personal favorite card of mine, Bouffalant DRX.
However, with other Virizion-EXs blocking Hypnotoxic Laser, Bouffalant loses a good deal of its favorable math against the format. 120 damage is a good chunk of HP on most Pokémon, but it is still generally only leads into a two hit knockout, which isn’t anything to write home about.
So why bother investing in Bouffalant if Genesect EX does about the same amount of damage and has better synergy with the deck? Simply because of Bouffer.
Bouffalant’s amazing Ability has been irrelevant for quite some time. HTL generally allowed people to add enough damage to their attacks to 1HKO Buffalo anyway. The buffer Bouffer provided typically didn’t matter. But now that Virizion-EX offers protection from Laser Bouffalant can often get two Gold Breakers in before falling to an opponent’s attacks.
Being a non-EX, it has the ability to trade with the format’s other attackers very favorably, especially in mirror and against Darkrai. Bouffalant is a great card to run alongside Genesect and Virizion-EX and does much more than Virizion NVI (which may or may not be reprinted in Plasma Blast as a secret rare).
On the topic of Virizion NVI, I’ll say I hate the card. Double Draw is a good attack, but the Genesect deck is meant to be aggressive. If you attach to Virizion NVI to Double Draw, the best you can do next turn is Leaf Wallop, which is pretty bad to begin with. I’d rather just invest in Virizion-EX. It pays off in value when you can attach extra Energy with its attack and getting its Verdant Wind online is something you want to do as soon as possible anyway.
I’d actually rather play Tropius PLB, a card we are probably getting in Plasma Blast. It does Return for one Grass Energy, making it comparable to Virizion NVI in terms of card drawing ability. I’d say Tropius is much better late game though. Having a Bianca embedded in your attack (Return) is much better than having to use a Bill (Double Draw) when you are starved for resources. The second attack can 1HKO Keldeo in some instances and is situational for dealing some moderate damage to other Pokémon while Leaf Wallop is really only good against 40 HP Basics.
Skyarrow Bridge is amazing in here. Retreating your Pokémon for free allows you to more freely abuse Red Signal and keep your momentum when transitioning from using Emerald Slash to attacking with Genesect EX or Bouffalant. Because the deck is basically immune to Special Conditions, there is little need to include Switch or Float Stone. Skyarrow gets the job done.
However, as your sole way to switch your Pokémon outside of manually retreating them, it is important to keep Skyarrow Bridge around. You need 3 copies in here.
I have to mention how much I hate Plasma Badge. If I could run this deck without the card I would but using Colress Machine on Bouffalant and having access to turn one Emerald Slash is just too good to pass up. Because this is a two piece combo, Skyla is required. Even with no other Supporter, turn 1 Emerald Slash is your desired opening move.
I need to stress how greedy Plasma Badge tends to be in this deck. Plasma Badge’s usefulness goes down over time the thinner your deck gets and the more Colress Machines you use. But the worst part about it is that it is an extremely narrow card. Only when it is attached to Bouffalant or Virizion-EX does it have any usefulness at all – even then, on its own it does nothing! You still need to follow that up with Colress Machine.
I really don’t think Plasma Badge is something you want to be playing in here. Playing it requires several Colress Machine and a suit of Plasma Energy, making the combo a large deck investment that might accelerate your Emerald Slash by a turn or give you a boost late game. That’s about all it does. So for this deck I’ll give two lists, one with the Plasma Badge package and one without.
But without Energy Switch the deck loses a lot of utility that is really impossible to gain back. So long as Energy Switch isn’t in the modified format I think Plasma Badge is the only way to go. I think this deck needs some sort of Energy manipulation. Badge/Colress Machine is second tier to Energy Switch, but until it gets reprinted there may be no good alternative.
Some people are being a bit overzealous in their lists, including flashy cards like Iris and Shadow Triad. Triad is great for recovering G Booster, so I include it in the Plasma Badge list because there are other cards that Shadow Triad can recover. In the second version, it just isn’t worth the trouble. Iris, even late game, is not something you want to be playing down. The deck needs constant gas to keep moving and Iris doesn’t provide this.
Here is the Plasma Badge version. I don’t think Energy Switch is going to be legal for Battle Roads so this is what I’ve been focused on. I’m pretty sure I would play Energy Switch over Badge any day though.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 38
1 G Booster
Energy – 13
This is the basic Plasma Badge list. Personally, I don’t think it has many options. In order to keep the Energy acceleration it has to sacrifice Hypnotoxic Laser. This is the ideal version below. Energy Switch makes the deck infinitely better.
Pokémon – 10
3 Boufflant DRX
Trainers – 38
1 G Booster
Energy – 12
You can see it already can’t you. It just LOOKS smoother. I really hate Plasma Badge but right now we have to play the waiting game.
Without Energy Switch, this deck isn’t nearly as strong. Even with all these things going for it, the Genesect deck just seems a little lacking to me. Obviously it has the synergy to be a tier 1 deck, and I think it will fit in there nicely. I think it’s too soon to call this deck BDIF. However, I believe Genesect is set to upstage TDK as the premier Plasma deck in the NXD-on format. It will reach its full potential when we see Energy Switch again.
This isn’t to say TDK can’t reinvent itself however. Don’t sell your Deoxys and Thundurus just yet. (Actually, you might want to do that! There is a note regarding selling cards at the bottom.)
New Age TDK
As I said a many paragraphs up, one card can have enough impact to warp an entire metagame. In the NXD-on format I feel like the card that will do this is Tool Scrapper.
Plasma Pokémon are still the focus of some of the best decks in the format. TDK is clearly still strong, even though it is somewhat overshadowed by the strength of the new Genesect EX/Virizion-EX deck. G Booster is THE premier ACE SPEC for Genesect, allowing it to do 200 damage to absolutely any active Pokémon, ignoring any effects that would prevent this damage such as the Ability Safeguard.
As a result, I think Life Dew will be a short lived concept. The current version of TDK will have to reinvent itself.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
Energy – 12
Not much has changed with this deck. I included a single copy of Virizion-EX to help deal with opposing Lasers. With 1 copy of Blend GRPD and 4 Prism Energy you can easily remove Hypnotoxic Laser’s Poison and Sleep, eliminating the need for Keldeo-EX and many switch cards.
The deck got some new toys in Plasma Blast. Too bad there isn’t much space to play with them.
Fitting Bangle costs an Energy and an attacker. Consider cutting them for a Kyurem and a Blend WLFM if you still want the comforts of the old TDK lists. If you do this cut Dowsing Machine for Computer Search. Not having the Bangle to take from your discard hurts Dowsing’s usefulness and the deck is running dry on support cards anyway.
No Float Stone
The focus is definitely on the non-EX attackers. You want to be focusing on taking EXs down without trading your own to do it, thus the inclusion of Silver Bangle, mainly for attaching to Absol and Kyurem. Absol generally serves as a strong, cheap attacker that can use Bangle to KO big EXs that are either damaged or Poisoned. Kyurem with Silver Bangle attached allows you to easily 1HKO Genesect with only 2 Deoxys-EX in play.
While TDK is certainly not as brutally efficient as Genesect decks will be it, TDK doesn’t have any clear weaknesses. The entire deck isn’t weak to one type like the aforementioned Grass archetype, nor is Gothitelle a deck anymore (TDK’s arch-nemesis prior to rotation).
The dragon that moves Energies might finally see play once again. While it gains a great asset in Virizion-EX, it also has gained a better position in the metagame. The decks Blastoise and RayEels have always stood in the hydra’s way, making its core healing strategy irrelevant. With Eelektrik rotating and Blastoise losing popularity to the surge of Grass decks, Hydreigon stands in a favorable position to make a comeback.
Previously, Hydra saw success with Darkrai EX as the main attacker. Now that Genesect EX can bring down a Darkrai in one hit, the deck needs to adapt.
The list I propose is very toolbox-like. It still focuses on healing Darkrai with Max Potion but other attackers have to be included to keep the deck viable in the changing metagame.
Blend GRPD and Prism Energy are incredible assets to have as they can be moved with Dark Trance and they provide for Fire Energy costs, helping include attackers that threaten new Grass decks. With Fire attackers, you also can take easy Prizes on any Virizion the opponent happens to bench, even though that card is not terribly relevant against Hydreigon, which doesn’t utilize Special Conditions to do damage.
Virizion-EX is now crucial to keep Pokémon out of 1HKO range.
Darkrai EX is still the main attacker and is basically required for its powerful attack and incredible Ability. Dark Cloak is still the pivot on which this deck operates.
In the past, versions of this deck used Prism Energy and Keldeo-EX to simultaneously counter Landorus-EX and mitigate damage from Laser. Currently, Landorus-EX only has a small place in the metagame and Virizion-EX is a strictly better counter to Hypnotoxic Laser. Therefore, you will find no ponies here.
Regardless of what techs you include, any deck that does 200 uncontested damage is going to be a problem. The without G Booster, Genesect is a carapace of its former self. For this reason, you want Tool Scrapper to deal with the ACE SPEC. You probably want a Fire type attacker that can take the required Energy off the Genesect player’s board as well.
The best cards for the job are probably Moltres NXD and Victini-EX. The Reshiram DEX may be viable as well if you don’t mind sacrificing your Special Energies for speed. The Fire type is starved for options, and these are probably the best ones for countering Genesect EX head on.
Pokémon – 16
1 Fire Pokémon
1 Other Tech Option
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
Latias-EX or Sigilyph could prove to be strong plays in certain metagames. Latias-EX is held back by its EX status and lack of an attack that 2HKOs EX Pokémon, but its ability to lock certain decks out of the game completely isn’t something you should overlook.
Silver Mirror could be played in this deck to great effect. Giving Sigilyph two layers of protection would be insane. Many of the strongest non-EX attackers in the game are Plasma, playing Mirror could totally lock out a Plasma deck or at very least give the hydra a Safeguard against TDK and Genesect.
Now, before you burn me at the stake for making the outlandish assumption that Latias-EX just might playable, call me Bill Nye and consider the following: this format is brand new and these are only ideas. I’m not saying they’re going to win you Battle Roads, I’m just offering up some ideas that I think might be powerful in appropriate metagames.
As long as you can answer either the Booster or the Pokémon itself, you should be okay against what is being called BDIF, Genesect.
Just a note about selling cards before I leave you for this month.
I feel like this is your last chance to get rid of your Deoxys-EX, Thundurus EX, and Lugia EX before they go the way of Darkrai, Rayquaza, and Mewtwo. The value of the regular art cards will, without a doubt, plummet. Thundurus EX’s price has been on the decline since it came out and soon the value of the other two will likely go in the same direction.
Personally, I’m keeping my Full Art versions. They hold more value than the regular arts have historically. If you’re like me and you don’t want to buy the tins but you still want to hold onto high value cards, try “upgrading” your regular art cards through trade to retain their value. But I digress.
Anyway, that’s all for now! Hopefully that helped someone out there. This is a tough time to be playing Pokémon, especially if you’re not attending Worlds. Know that I try to deliver the best I can, even on the off season.
I know this article was short but I hope you can get something out of it. I’m SURE this information will become outdated within a month or two as more ideas surface and we see an actual metagame develop but bear with me, the format is young. There is a lot left to learn here.
Good luck in all your endeavors!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
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