Hey guys, Alex here again. I’ve been meaning to come out with an article again for a while, but with school starting, I’ve been super swamped and haven’t had a bit of time to sit down and write again. But between the fact that I’ve got a free day and there are tons of things to discuss, I’m going to get down to business.
I had a great run at the Klaczynski Open going 5-2 and just missing cut by a hair. I ran Plasma with 2 Absol and an Enhanced Hammer, both big techs for the mirror. I faced 4 Plasma decks for the first 4 rounds so that intuition paid off.
I won all 4 series and the Enhanced Hammer was super clutch in all four. It either gives you an extra advantage in the games you go first or allows you to catch up on Energy attachments if you go second. The two Absol are great attackers against Kyurem and really pack a punch when combined with a Frost Spear from your own Kyurem.
The 5th round I played Henry Prior with Genesect and basically got destroyed. I didn’t know how to play against the deck and had never tested against it, so that was a bit rough. However, I think I made a good adjustment in the second game and I want to touch on that. That is one of the big advantages of the best-of-three format. When you play against a rogue deck or even just a different list of a known deck, you really need to evaluate your options and gameplay between games. That 2 minutes that you get to shuffle is some valuable time to reflect on the past game and strategize for the next one.
What I did for the 2nd game differently from the 1st one was to bench all 4 Deoxys. Drifloon has 70 HP and Drifblim has 100 HP, so the extra 40 damage combined with the base 30 that both Thundurus and Kyurem do can really make math easy. In addition to that, I knew that if I kept my Special Energy out of the discard by using Raiden Knuckle a lot, I would limit his Drifblim’s damage output.
I also thought Absol was a very good attacker, both because it only took 2 Energy and could get powered up easily, but also because it would almost always 1HKO a Drifblim. The problem with this is that Henry was always able to power up a Genesect and take some easy Prizes there and with 4 Deoxys on my bench, I had difficulties charging up a Kyurem to deal with it. I made the 2nd game closer than the 1st one, but I still didn’t feel like I was going to win.
Side note, check Lex D’Andrea’s Klaczynski Open report to see another example of changing your game plan. Henry does it in the 2nd game of his Swiss match with Lex and it is very successful.
I faced Blastoise each of the last 2 rounds. The first of which was against J-Wittz and I got pretty lucky in that series. In the first game, I was able to draw 3 Deoxys and a Catcher on his benched Squirtle on my first turn. He was only able to bench 1 Squirtle per turn for his first 3 turns and I Catchered all of them.
The second game was more even, but I came out on top after hitting an Energy off of my own N to 3 and then getting a Catcher from my Prizes, both of which I needed to win on my next turn. I really think that Blastoise is a favorable matchup for Plasma, but not by too much. I feel comfortable winning a best-of-three against it as long as they don’t get super lucky and I don’t get really unlucky.
Round 7 I played against Blastoise again in a do-or-die situation. However, my opponent got turn 2 Blastoise all 3 games. I won one game simply by manipulating math perfectly with Frost Spear, Deoxys’ Helix Force, and Absol. Past that, my opponent just ran really hot and you can’t do anything about that. I missed cut, but made Top 16 and am still happy with my performance.
With Regionals coming up, there are a lot of things to do. I haven’t started testing much as there is almost a 2 month gap between the Klaczynski Open and Regionals. However, I’m getting to the point where I really need to start narrowing down my deck choice and perfecting a few lists to choose from.
The question is, what needs to be tested and what do you need to test against? The answer to this is much harder than it seems.
Metagaming is about to become a big deal. One needs to look at both the results of the Klaczynski Open and the Regional(s) that precede their own. This will be reminiscent of States in the way that past performances from other parts of the country will highly influence the other tournaments.
For a good example of successful metagaming, check out this article by Colin Moll on Celadon City Gym. Colin analyzed the results from the first weekend of States and saw that he predicted Big Basics decks with Landorus-EX to increase in popularity and consequently, Blastoise to increase in popularity. To combat both of those, he played Klinklang and got 2nd place at his State Championships in week 2.
The current format isn’t similar to the States format, but we can still apply some of the same thinking to metagaming for the upcoming Regionals. In the States format, the deck you played was everything. Blastoise had a good matchup against Big Basics, and a bad one against Klinklang. RayEels had good matchups against most decks, but an almost auto-loss to any Garbodor and could be donked or just overrun by Landorus. Darkrai had solid matchups across the board and could win any with good and careful gameplay.
Today’s format is more about your techs and deck list than your deck itself. Plasma has a less than favorable matchups against Darkrai/Garbodor and Genesect, but basic Energy could just be the crutch you need to turn them around. Blastoise might have an unfavorable Darkrai/Garbodor matchup, but an extra Tool Scrapper and/or a Dowsing Machine could turn that around. Your Darkrai/Garbodor deck might not beat Plasma as often as you like, but adding Silver Mirror and/or more Enhanced Hammer could change that. Many of the decks today have a lot of decent matchups, but the techs you play can really turn some in your favor.
The problem comes when you want to decide what matchups you need, and want, to tech for. If you play a Genesect deck with 4-4 Drifblim and 2 Enhanced Hammer, but you just face a lot of Darkrai/Garbodor and Blastoise, that’s 10 nearly useless spaces in your deck.
If you’re not looking at tournament results, you might make that mistake. However, if you saw that there was a lack of Plasma doing well in the first weekend of Regionals, you might not want to play all those cards. The problem with metagaming comes when you only look at the surface results. In the previous example, one might think that because Plasma wasn’t well represented one weekend, it won’t be played as much at your Regionals.
However, you need to look past that. For one, Plasma is one of the cheapest decks in the format due to the new tins. Also, you need to account for the fact that other players will also see the results and maybe they won’t play their Plasma counters for the next weekend. Thus, Plasma could potentially run through an unprepared field instead. Metagaming and choosing your decklist is difficult and often a shot in the dark.
From here, I’m gonna run through some of the techs I think are most useful in your matchups with the four big decks. I am a big advocate of tech spaces in decklists. If a tech card doesn’t cause you to readjust your whole deck and playstyle, then you can just have a set number of tech spots that you can rotate cards through, depending on what decks you feel you need to tech against.
I’ll also give my general thoughts on each deck but I won’t dwell too much on that because many great writers have already done that, especially in some of the recent Underground articles.
Table of Contents
Blastoise was the first deck that I really tested out this format. I knew I was going to be able to play foreign Tropical Beaches at the Klaczynski Open and I felt that it had solid matchups all around. I think the deck is great but every other deck in the format can definitely beat it. Blastoise seems to be the Darkrai of this format in the way that it can compete with every deck but doesn’t have any immensely favorable matchups.
This was the best tech in Blastoise that I found. When they have access to snipe damage, they can easily set up two EXs to get Knocked Out either with a Kyurem and 3 Deoxys or a Bangle, an Absol against a full Bench with 3 Deoxys or a Bangle (or a bench of 4 with 3 Deoxys and Bangle), or even a Deoxys attacking a Keldeo with 4 Energy, common after they Knock Out a Kyurem. Taking away Plasma’s options really limits the deck’s potency.
This one isn’t a tech per se, but I wanted to discuss it a bit. Three of my friends who went to the Klaczynski Open with me played Blastoise without any Black Kyurem EX. We found this version to be much better against Plasma between the Mr. Mime tech and the fact that Plasma is unable to just Knock Out your Blastoise and leave your field without Energy.
Their results didn’t correspond with our testing, but that just speaks to the inconsistency that Blastoise sometimes falls victim to. Shoutout to Mike Newman for his Worlds performance and giving us the idea for this deck!
This is the opposite of the count that I see being played in most Blastoise decks but I think it takes some of your weakness away in the Genesect match. They can’t just load up a Genesect and take a lot of easy Prizes on your Keldeos and you actually have an attacker that is able to 1-shot their Genesect.
Similarly, many Blastoise builds are running just 3 Blastoise. Since Genesect can easily just Catcher up a Blastoise and 1-shot it, you need to be able to get out 2 or maybe 3 Blastoise in a game against Genesect. If you have to discard 1 with Juniper, you might be unable to easily find your last Blastoise if you only play 3.
This is really the only thing that holds you back against this deck. Most of the time, you need to only attack with Keldeo and try to just use Black Kyurem for your last 2 Prizes. If you have just 1 out to Tool Scrapper, not only will it be difficult to get your hands on, it will also only give you 1 turn of energy acceleration. With 2 or even 3 uses of Scrapper per game, you are more likely to be able to Rush In when you need to, spread Energy around the board, and take down the possible best deck in format.
This card would be a sort of one trick pony. When your opponent Catchers up your Blastoise or Black Kyurem to stall, you could just throw a Float Stone on and retreat. They will likely just Tool Scrapper it off and plan against it in the next game, but in a pinch, it could be very useful to get back to your fully powered Keldeo and take another Sableye down. It is also useful in conjunction with Rush In in your other matches.
I apologize in advance if this a bit of a rant, but I want to get all my thoughts down. I’ve been testing Plasma the most and have played it for every Premier Event since my 2nd Battle Roads. I’m comfortable with the deck and love all its options both in game and tech wise.
However, many people are writing it off already and I don’t see why. I know that no Plasma player made Top 8 at the Klaczynski Open, but there are three big things to keep in mind about that. First, you had to go 6-1 to make Top 8. That is a huge accomplishment in my opinion, especially in a difficult field. There are very few tournaments with 5 or more rounds that you ever have to lose only 1 game to make cut.
Second, there were at least 3 players with Plasma in the Top 16 and 4 more further down but still at 5-2. The deck did well, but people are getting very hung up with the results of the top cut only.
Third, the time limit at the Klaczynski Open was 75 minutes. Decks like Blastoise and Darkrai/Garbodor really need that extra time. Plasma thrives on the 50 minute time limit that we will be playing with at Regionals and will really gain an advantage over other decks. Even if players adjust to the time limit, they will feel rushed and might make misplays they wouldn’t make with time on their side. These are things you definitely need to keep in mind before writing Plasma off as a good play for Regionals. But anyway, on to the techs.
This is a difficult matchup to tech against in my opinion as I think it’s already favorable, albeit slightly. Consistency can make the biggest difference in your games and it comes down to who runs the hottest. However, there are still a few things you can do to turn the tides.
Many Plasma lists aren’t running Hypnotoxic Laser anymore and I agree with that philosophy. Silver Bangle works just as well in many situations and gives you 3 spaces to play with when you use 3 Bangle instead of 4 Laser and 2 Virbank. However, using Virbank City Gym did give you a way to get rid of your opponent’s Tropical Beach, disrupting their set up and also taking away their out to N.
Frozen City is another option and can also be helpful against Darkrai/Garbodor (making your Sableye knockouts easier). I rarely got Frozen City out when I tried it in Plasma and often had it replaced by Tropical Beach when I did get it out, so it might not be the most worthwhile tech but it is one you should try nonetheless.
I love Ghetsis for combatting both Blastoise and Darkrai/Garbodor (this whole discussing techs against a single deck thing isn’t working as well as I thought, heh). It almost nullifies your opponent’s Junk Hunt and also can get rid of your opponent’s Rare Candy and/or Ultra/Heavy Ball they needed to get out a Blastoise after they use Tropical Beach.
A high count of Ghetsis would be the best way to really take advantage of it, but it is a big risk as it is nowhere near as consistent as other supporters like Juniper. This is something you need to try out before slapping in a deck.
Both of the techs listed above help a lot against Darkrai, so check that before reading on.
I’ve found Absol to be a great attacker against Darkrai/Garbodor as it can be charged up in one turn and also easily one shots Sableye, unlike Thundurus and Kyurem. It can also pile some damage up on Darkrai before they are really ready to attack with it.
I tried out a Plasma list with only 1 Tool Scrapper and 4 switching cards to make room for Landorus and basic Energy, but ended up getting punished by Darkrai/Garbodor. They will often Catcher your Deoxys and you really need a way to get out of the active. In addition to that, they might just sit behind a Sableye with a Silver Mirror and you’ll need a 2nd Scrapper to help you out there when they Junk Hunt or Dowsing Machine to get it back.
Basic Energy/Energy Search
This combination is also useful against Genesect because of the Drifblim lines. It works great in conjunction with Skyla and Dowsing Machine, but I’ve found it to be a bit inconsistent. I tried using 2 Lightning and 2 Water, but it didn’t give me enough of a boost against Darkrai. It is really nice to make your opponent’s Enhanced Hammer much less useful, but then you have a little less Energy to use with a Landorus. Maybe only running 1-of each basic Energy is the way to go but I don’t think it’s nearly as useful that way.
The Plasma Landorus is also a card I was testing out after a strong recommendation by Jay Hornung. However, I never used it at all in a good handful of games. I often would play it down, but couldn’t match hand sizes and didn’t want to just throw my Energy on it for the chance when I could attack with it. It is, in theory, a great attacker as you can 1-shot Sableye (when given a chance to use 2 Deoxys), Darkrai, and Absol, but I don’t know that it is that truly useful.
See the section on Darkrai/Garbodor as the basic Energy idea is very useful here as well. This is my least tested matchup (unfortunately) and many of my tech ideas here are “theorymon.” Also, check my Klaczynski Open report above to see some thoughts on the matchup.
Alright, I’m crazy. You don’t have to tell me twice. However, if you think this matchup is really bad, this could be a decent tech to take some easy Prizes. With 3 Deoxys, you 1-shot both Genesect and Virizion. It’s easy to power up with either Scramble Switch or 2 Colress Machine. I’m not saying this is a great option, but it’s an option nonetheless.
This one is also a bit crazy, but it is one of the off the wall ideas I’m considering. If you use Scramble Switch, it’s easy to power up and you can take 2 Prizes easily off of a Drifblim. Unless they get rid of one or more of your Energy, you can easily power it up again to take 2 more Prizes on the next turn. From there, a Blizzard Burn on a Genesect will seal the game for you.
Many people are calling this the best deck in format and, well, it’s hard to argue with results. It has taken down Plasma, Blastoise, and Genesect with relative ease. It is definitely the deck to beat right now but will it live up to the hype?
Heavy Garbodor Line
Many Darkrai/Garbodor decks I see play just a 2-2 Garbodor. You really need it in this matchup (obviously) and I would recommend a 3-2 or even 3-3 Garbodor. This makes you less susceptible to Prizes, you can draw into it more often instead of always searching for it, and you don’t have to rely on Super Rod as much.
When you play more Tools, your opponents’ Tool Scrappers don’t hurt as bad. Sure, they get to attack for a turn, but you will have a hard time throwing another tool down after the first or second Scrapper if you only play 4 Float Stone.
I really like Silver Mirror in Darkrai/Garbodor and I know you don’t want to waste it on a Garbodor, but it’s better than letting your opponent use Rush In and Deluge.
Speak of the devil, this card is great. I took the idea from Dustin Zimmerman’s Darkrai/Garbodor that he played at the Klaczynski Open. Very often, the Plasma player will take a large lead and only need 1 Prize to win the game. If your Sableye has a Silver Mirror, it’s that much harder for them to take that last Prize. It’s also a great card to Junk Hunt for when you don’t necessarily need much on the offensive side and just want to fortify your board position.
This is not only a great card against Plasma, I think it should be the ACE SPEC of choice for Darkrai/Garbodor. You don’t always know what your opponent will be able to do on their next turn and Junk Hunting for Dowsing Machine gives you so many more options. You can get back the Silver Mirror that was Tool Scrappered away, get a 2nd Enhanced Hammer to completely nullify their Raiden Knuckle, or, in other matchups, get the Float Stone you want to keep your Garbotoxin alive.
This is the biggest thing that I think you need against Genesect. The reason Darkrai/Garbodor might have a favorable matchup against Genesect is the fact that the math works perfectly well with Dark Claw and Virbank’s addition to Laser damage. If you try to get by with only 1 Virbank, you’ll find yourself having a hard time to get it out and also watch it get replaced by their Tropical Beach. I don’t think you need more than 2, but I think you definitely need 2.
The Dark Claw vs. Silver Mirror debate is a prime example of a “tech space.” They can’t very easily both exist in the same deck and would need to be switched out depending on which matchup you want to tech more for, Genesect or Plasma. Dark Claw might be the better option as it helps your math against Plasma as well, mostly Kyurem. I think you really need Dark Claw to beat Genesect as it acts as another turn of Laser damage or an extra attack’s worth of snipe damage, both of which you might not be able to get.
I think Genesect has a lot of potential, but it has been and probably will continue to be underplayed. I think it has good matchups against Plasma and Blastoise, and can have a decent matchup against Darkrai, but needs some adjustments.
More Ultra Ball
This might seem weird, but you will have as many as 10 dead cards in this matchup. You need to get Energy and maybe even your G Booster out in this matchup, and the dead cards will clog up your hands. Also, you will be very susceptible to N if you don’t get all of these cards out of your deck.
If you have more Catcher, you rely less on Red Signal for when you want to bring up their Blastoise and get rid of it. This is fairly simple, but I’ve seen some people using 3 and even 2 Pokémon Catcher in their list to make room for other techs.
I know this is what many lists are playing now based on what Henry used in his, and it’s really one of the best ways to beat Plasma. The best part is probably just the fact that Drifblim DRX can Knock Out a Deoxys when they only have 2 Special Energy in their discard pile. With a couple of these and a couple Catcher, a game can be locked up quickly. Also, Drifblim PLB is great just because it is a free attacker, allowing you to instead charge up a Genesect for when you really need a big attack.
Sometimes, the disruption from Drifblim PLB is not enough to sway the game in your favor. Combine this with an Enhanced Hammer and you can eliminate a threat very easily. Henry played 2 in his Genesect deck and they gave me fits. Also, they work well with Drifblim DRX to make sure you have enough damage to get a Knock Out.
2-3 Tropical Beach
I really think this would sway this matchup a ton. If you can replace their Virbank and take away their extra poison damage, they have to work a lot harder to get knock outs. Instead of just hitting each Genesect once and using residual damage from poison and snipe, they have to hit several Genesect twice. It also really ups your consistency and gives you an option on turn 1.
Similarly to Tropical Beach, playing more Tool Scrapper turns Virizion’s power back on and you won’t take Poison damage anymore. This can catch a Garbodor player off guard and give you an edge in a close matchup.
That’s about all the techs I have. Make sure you test out anything you think might be good and decide for yourself what ideas are actually viable. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box sometimes, the best decks have been discovered by trying out things that aren’t commonly accepted as good.
From here, I just wanted to get my quick thoughts on the new rules down. I think they are good rules for the game as a whole, but right now, they will do bad things for the format.
Pokémon Catcher becoming Reversal (success depending on a coin flip) is a change that really didn’t need to be done in my opinion. Catcher is not a necessarily skill based card, but turning it into a luck based card is not really a good thing for the format. It doesn’t make Bench-sitters any better as I predict people will still play 4 Pokémon Catcher, but it just makes it so you can’t rely on using a Catcher when you hit it.
This is part of the reason why Ross Cawthon played Vileplume in The Truth back in the Reversal filled format in 2011; he didn’t think his bench sitting Reuniclus was safe even though people had to flip to bring it active. (Note: That format also had Junk Arm, so Reversal wasn’t limited to just 4 per game, just to make things clear.)
I’ve been playing past formats a lot and have noticed one thing about Gust of Wind type cards. They are generally good for the format as you don’t have to just let your opponent set up. I really wish they would reprint Pow! Hand Extension from Team Rocket Returns. It would allow players to have a guaranteed Catcher again, but only when coming from behind. Cards like this and Scramble Energy are only good for the format and I think the makers of the game know that when they reprinted Rocket’s Admin as N.
The no attacking turn 1 rule is something that many people have talked about for a while. Obviously, Tropical Beach becomes a very desirable card for almost every deck and will be very expensive. It could be reprinted before or in XY and I really hope it is. A format in which everyone can have access to a card that lets them draw more on their first turn without fearing donks is great but if only a few people have access to Tropical Beach, it is just unfair and makes the game more and more into a game of who has the most money.
I also wish the rule was, instead, no damage on turn 1. That would turn Call for Family, Junk Hunt, and even Raiden Knuckle into viable options for the first turn for people who don’t have Tropical Beach or don’t want to play it in their deck.
The other possibility I’ve heard discussed is that Tropical Beach’s effect could be reprinted as a new card just like Professor Sycamore has the same effect as Professor Juniper. This would actually be the best way to go about things as it keeps Tropical Beach exclusive as a Worlds promo while still bringing its effect to the masses.
That’s all I have for you all today! This article ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated so bravo to you if you made it all the way through. I’ll be at the Fort Wayne Regional Championships so if you see me, come say hi! I’ll be wearing my Michigan State Pokémon shirt one of the days and probably my Celadon City Gym shirt the other day (if only SixPrizes had new shirts). Thanks for reading!