Pursuing the Truth in a New Format: What’s Right?

jesse james meowth team rocket yikespokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
The community’s reaction to the news.

The months of October and November will go down in Pokémon Trading Card Game history as two of the most momentous we have ever had. In the blink of an eye, our entire Swiss system was overturned, our time limits, simultaneously expanded yet limited, and the very way we play the game completely revolutionized.

Figuring out how to approach all these changes the “right” way is an extremely challenging and subjective process. Some things we don’t even know fully yet; however, I have several ideas that should make catching up with this crazy new game easier. Aside from standard discussion of the upcoming Regionals metagame, I will also address important discussion about the new tournament rules, as well as getting the best of the upcoming XY reboot.

So, without further ado…

What’s Right for Regionals?

My colleagues here at SixPrizes Underground have beaten this topic to death. Heck, even I have, and this is only my second article of the new season! Nevertheless, I’d like to give my final perspective on the playability of the four (six) main decks, an exhaustive rundown of some of the star techs and splash-in hate cards, and finally, a list that combines them all to make a pretty brutal anti-meta deck!

Plasma [Regular]

What was once the highlight of the new format is now fading. Can it make a comeback in time for Regionals?

It can. However, once you embrace the deck’s strengths and accept its weaknesses, I think that your odds of winning will be that much better. But first, my testing list…

Pokémon – 10

4 Deoxys-EX
3 Kyurem PLF
2 Thundurus-EX PLF
1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

2 Skyla
2 Colress

2 Bicycle

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Colress Machine
3 Silver Bangle
3 Switch

1 Float Stone
2 Team Plasma Ball
1 Ultra Ball

2 Tool Scrapper
1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Frozen City

Energy – 13

4 Plasma
4 Prism
4 Blend WLFM
1 Blend GRPD

Usually, I like explaining my lists in detail. However, I feel that this has been beaten into the ground, and will be dealt with indirectly via discussion about Special Energy, Bangle counts, general talk about ACE SPECs, etc. However, it should be noted why I run two copies of Frozen City.

First, it shores up damage differentials in every top tier match other than mirror, forcing damage onto Genesect’s secondary attackers, some light sprinkling of damage in the Darkrai game, and a whole bunch of pain against if timed right. Secondly, it allows you to win hate matchups you have no business winning, like Zebstrika and good Trubbish builds.

Anyway, onto the main talk…

water-energy-neo-genesis-111pokemon-paradijs.com
“Go big or go home.”

– If you attempt to play basic Energy in a normal Plasma list, either do it right, or don’t do it at all. I know that Drifblims are scary, and I know that a sea of Enhanced Hammers being Junk Hunted are scary, too. But diverse attackers are a strong point for this deck, and that requires special energy to happen.

Now, I’ve seen plenty of GOOD Plasma lists stick to basics; that is, cutting Absol and other random techs entirely, focusing purely on Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem, and running a high count of Water and Lightning. This, in my opinion, is the RIGHT way to do it.

While running a single copy of, say, Water Energy may make sense for other reasons, such as wanting to increase your odds of a fast Frost Spear, one Water will almost never make the critical difference in the face of a flurry of Hammers, or Shadow Steals for 150 damage.

– Even though you run the most robust Basic Pokémon in the format, run decent amounts of draw and search! Although it gets me by, especially in a 2-of-three setting, I still find myself concerned with the combined 14 total in the aforementioned list.

Sharing my own perspective of the deck, my relationship with Plasma is strange: I play it well, love the massive strength it brings thanks to Silver Bangle, and just have a lot of fun using it. However, this is all on the backdrop of the massive hate existing against it… Why use the most countered deck?

My reason why is that even though it is the technically “weakest” of the four main decks, it has such monstrously explosive starts, I can forgive the on-paper weakness in the metagame, and appreciate what it brings to the table in a big field. No amount of Enhanced Hammers, Drifblims, and Silver Mirrors in the world can deny Plasma’s heavy type coverage, Energy acceleration, bench damage, and 1HKOs.

Plasma [Kyurem]

Pokémon – 10

4 Kyurem PLF
4 Deoxys-EX
2 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

2 Bicycle

 

4 Colress Machine
4 Pokémon Catcher

3 Silver Bangle

2 Team Plasma Ball
1 Ultra Ball

2 Float Stone
2 Switch

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Super Rod
1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 14

7 Water
4 Plasma
3 Prism

Unlike regular Plasma, we all know that the added emphasis on basic Energy, Kyurem attacking, and “not” having to bench Deoxys-EX means that you can play around Drifblims easier. Likewise, higher basic Energy means fewer issues against Darkrai. Thus, the call becomes strictly a choice of metagame, and a choice of preference: Do you like the flexibility of a deck like Plasma, which can tech how it pleases and play what it wants? Or do you want a metagame-sensitive, streamlined concept that should pretty much set up the exact same way in every match?

Unlike the average Kyurem build, I run a huge count of Skyla. This is because I was to hit exactly what I need for a turn one Frost Spear, whether that means a Colress Machine or switching. At one point, I even ran a tech Energy Search alongside the four Skyla just so I could fill in the blank, but I deemed that mostly inefficient (although you could still cut a Prism or Water for it).

To close out Plasma talk, I’d like to address some points I brought up in my last article that apply to both Plasma decks, and examine their relevance today…

kyurem plasma freeze plf 31pokemon-paradijs.com
SO STRONG.

1. Back in August, I said that “Kyurem is at the heart of our new format.” Even though Plasma lags behind the other top-decks in terms of technical competitiveness, Kyurem is still an extremely important piece to the Regionals puzzle: It’s the biggest reason why Darkrai bothers with Enhanced Hammers; is tied with Darkrai for its relevance in forcing Mr. Mime into deck lists; and it is the only non-EX capable of going toe-to-toe with any EX in the current format, Virizion and 180 HP guys included.

Is it still the “heart”? Not so much, but it certainly was at the beginning, and it will continue to remain a key player.

2. I still believe that four Deoxys is the play. The whole reason why Kyurem is even better now than it was before is because so much is in range for knockout. Cut corners on your Deoxys, and you suddenly start whiffing KOs.

3. We need three Silver Bangle in this list, period. My opinion is now much more grounded on that count than it was back then, as more testing results (and more whiffs over a long period of time) show.

Darkrai [Regular]

Unlike the other decks here, I will not spend much time discussing the old version of Darkrai. Put simply, I feel that it is mostly outdated: It has all the same issues versus Blastoise that it did during Nationals and Worlds (unlike for Darkrai/Garbodor), with the added disadvantage of being susceptible to quick Bangle response-KOs. Nevertheless, I feel like it plays a very important role in the upcoming Regionals, and quite possibly the months ahead.

Although it has no solid disruption beyond Hypnotoxic Laser, no massive damage, and no versatility, regular Darkrai remains consistent, and is the only version of the deck that is reasonably capable of hitting the turn two Night Spear. Those alone will give it strength in the coming tournaments, but perhaps its biggest contribution is to newer and less experienced players.

Since a Worlds-winning deck is entirely legal, is relatively cheap, and is much easier to play than its cousin, Darkrai/, I would expect to see this as the first or second most popular deck come Fall Regionals, second possibly to Plasma.

Expect it, and be prepared for it. I don’t know if I would PLAY it, but at least do those two things.

Darkrai [Garbodor]

garbodor-dragons-exalted-drx-54pokemon-paradijs.com
“Please don’t counter me…”

This deck is the reverse of Plasma for me, in that it is “technically” one of the strongest archetypes you can run, yet it is one of my least favorite to use.

Why? Well, at this point we know all of the reasons for why Darkrai/Garbodor is good: Reliable in a best-of-three setting, highly capable of winning best-of-threes on time if you win the first game, good mix of disruption and speed, and it’s the only bench-hitting deck that’s really capable of dealing with Mr. Mime, yet not lose to the rest of the field (I’m looking at you, Landorus-EX).

So why does it give me an uneasy feeling? For starters, while it too can be heavily countered like Plasma can, it’s in ways that should be much more surprising for Darkrai players. The main point in my earlier Plasma section was that the deck can still be strong despite high amounts of hate, but only if you know of the hate’s existence.

With Plasma, we have a reasonable idea of how many Silver Mirrors should show up at Regionals, and how much Drifblim/Enhanced Hammer should be there. With Darkrai’s hate, such as Tool Scrapper counts in Blastoise, Terrakions, Stunfisks, Landorus-EXs, we have a much less certain idea of Darkrai’s hate. This makes figuring out the playability of Darkrai in your metagame much more difficult (unless you, for some reason, have a very good idea due to local and state trends).

Second, I feel that Genesect and Blastoise lists are on the upswing. Lists are getting better, savvier to the metagame, and therefore more adequate to deal with Darkrai/Garbodor. Granted, a standard Plasma build, such as the one above, should lose to a “good” Darkrai/Garbodor player and list more often than not. But despite the likelihood of Plasma and Darkrai being the two most popular decks, no deck with average luck can survive a Regional Championship without at least being able to not lose to Genesect or Blastoise – period.

Finally, the Klaczynski Open gave Darkrai/Garbodor a very large target on its back, so odds are higher that peoples final strange tweaks will be blatant Darkrai/Garbodor hate. If people are dedicating slots to Fighting attackers, that means less hate for whatever else you could be using. And if people are dedicating slots to Fighting attackers or Tool Scrappers, that naturally means less space for consistency, meaning more good matchups that become better, and more close or bad matchups that become steals due to the 50 minute best-of-three system

Despite these three points, as well as my own hesitance to play it, I peg Darkrai/Garbodor to be a top-deck. Much of the above depends on the players and builds being top notch, which as we know is not the case. This goes back to a much larger issue us longtime players have debated to years, which is “should I use a deck best able to beat an ideal playing field, or should I use a deck able to beat the world as it is?” Nine times out of ten, unless your ideal world deck is really… ideal, the stuff that wins practically should win the tournament. Darkrai/Garbodor is one such deck.

Blastoise

800px-Sid_BlastoiseBulbapedia
Differing Weaknesses help.

Whereas much of this section has been about expanding on or altering my ideas from last article, I really have no new opinions about Blastoise: It’s good; it’s expensive; it’s powerful; and it’s really shaky if you don’t have amazing consistency.

In addition, there really is nothing else to add past “set up and you probably win handily; don’t set up and you lose badly.” I also don’t believe that it’s position has changed a whole lot, and the Klaczynski Open only reaffirmed that: In a field that includes Genesect, Blastoise can still do fine. The question is… How fine?

Answer: As well as it’s been doing, which is… moderately well. One aspect of countering Blastoise that makes it at least the fourth or third safest of these six concepts to play is the difficulty of countering Grass Weakness and Dragon Weakness.

For example, several rogues such as may easily slip in a couple Leafeons to take down your Keldeo-EXs, but still have substantial problems versus Black Kyurem EX; and other rogues, such as Garchomp or Haxorus, will have no trouble dispatching the Black Kyurem EX, yet have seriously problems keeping up with constant Keldeos. This plays significantly in your favor, making Blastoise a safe “middle-of-the-road” option for Regionals.

Genesect

We finally come to Genesect, the sole “new” deck out of the four big archetypes. Due to the tide against Plasma, as well as the soon-to-come tide against Darkrai, a good build is poised to win quite a few Regional Championships, especially in the younger age groups. The cost of Virizions and Genesects will hold the more economical players back, and the cost of Tropical Beach even more so. But for those who do play it, you should enjoy several natural advantages against the field, including easy 1HKOs on Darkrai, a Weakness advantage over Blastoise, and possibly a tech option against Plasma.

Speaking of which, Drifblims are a great (and proven!) use of Genesect’s extra space, and offer a much more reliable option for versatility as opposed to dedicating the space for turbo engines. Last article I suggested turbo options because, when put in a vacuum, it makes sense to play that. Of course, our real world includes a metagame, and now that it’s been established that the slightly slower decks take priority over faster ones, Genesect can live without a turn one Emerald Slash.

All in all, Genesect is a fantastic play. Its only real counters are Fire attackers, each of which can be negated either by your own attackers (Drifblims versus Flareons), or the metagame at large (Victini-EX being easy prey for Kyurem Plasmas). Even typical counters for EXs and Plasma, like Suicune PLB/Sigilyph DRX/Silver Mirror, are outplayed by G Booster.

The Bottom Line

Given the above, here’s the “order” in which I see all six decks as being safe plays for Regionals, with number one being the safest, and number five being the riskiest. Also included is a summary of some of my main points over these last two articles.

1. Genesect

  • Fast, consistent
  • Heavy-hitting and disruptive
  • Somewhat safe from most hard counters

2. Darkrai/Garbodor

  • Solid balance of strength and disruption – more disruption than strength
  • Counters haven’t shown their faces yet, but run a real risk of doing so come Regionals
  • Has a lot of time to play its full strategy to win game one, thereby winning game two on time

3. Blastoise

  • Same old, same old
  • If setup, strong; if not, weak
  • Awkward Weakness combination makes countering difficult

4/5. Plasma Regular and Plasma Kyurem focus (tie)

  • Extremely fast and consistent; undonkable; best turn one in the game right now
  • Heavily hated on by the metagame with no answer except luck and other trends
  • Choice between the variants depends on metagame and play preference

6. Regular Darkrai

  • The only fast version of Darkrai around
  • Not many tools at its disposal to beat everything else on this list
  • Very cheap, and much easier to play than its Garbodor cousin, so will be played in droves

Counters and Card Notes

Of course, the above archetypes don’t exist in a vacuum – that is, there are plenty of counters and options to make in dealing with them. Listed below are two categories of card: Specific counters for decks, and more general “card notes” regarding counts of popular choices, or simply whether or not to include a given card.

Hard Counters

Kecleon PLF

kecleon-plasma-freeze-plf-94pokemon-paradijs.com
Has a myriad of uses.

As a strange tech, I love Kecleon to death. With Silver Bangle, it 1HKOs Black Kyurem EX, and thanks to Prism Energy, it has just about every quick attack in the game at its disposal. In some matches, such as against Darkrai, you might even see it shine in ways you wouldn’t have even imagined, such as copying Junk Hunt.

Terrakion BCR vs. Stunfisk DRX

I see both cards thrown around as Darkrai counters, and for the most part, both do a fine job at it: Terrakion has the largest potential for 1HKO, while has the quickest, dirtiest damage. Defensively, Terrakion’s higher HP boasts longer life in bad situations, whereas Stunfisk’s Rumble lets you lock no-Energy Darkrais cleanly for easy knockouts.

So which is better as a counter? The answer is that it depends on your deck: As a side attacker, Terrakion’s robustness pays in spades, as it is very room-efficient hits for a clean 1HKO with Retaliate. It also has more general uses, as 90 for two against anything is pretty useful. On the other hand, turn two Rumble via Stunfisk outright humiliates Darkrai lists no longer running switching. Perhaps you could even run both!

Victini-EX

The “obvious” Genesect counter at the start of our format remains pretty formidable: Turn one 200 attacks on Virizion or Genesect, among others. However, Victini suffers from a strange metagame phenomenon, mentioned above, in which even though it does counter Genesect well, Kyurem Plasma’s popularity in the metagame makes using it a far riskier option. In some games I otherwise had no business winning with Plasma, I pulled it out solely due to two early Prizes I might have grabbed off of a Victini, or two late Prizes when I had no other options.

Other Fire Counters

I’ve tried some very strange Fire counters, particular in Plasma. Nonsense like Heatran-EX, Moltres-EX, or even thin lines of Flareon Plasma splashed into things have all shown up in testing. While they, from a literal sense, get the job done in beating Genesect, their presence has so far ruined your consistency, forcing you to run search cards you otherwise wouldn’t, or just clog your deck’s flow with things that would be better served as draw or search.

Drifblims

Both the Dragons Exalted and Plasma Blast iterations of Drifblim are exceptionally powerful cards right now. But I think it’s important to step back and realize what such a monstrous counter to Plasma means for the metagame. For starters, high play of it should give Blastoise and Darkrai players a sigh of relief, as it does little to nothing versus those two.

Where do they work best? For the most part, I would say Flareon: They serve their function very well in making Plasma much more beatable, yet can be sacrificial lambs for Flareon’s Vengeance, or mere free retreaters to balance out your low Energy count in that deck.

Zoroark NXD

I see this show up from time-to-time, but usually lists that don’t need it. One point a few of my testing friends back in the Dallas area and I discovered is that its presence in a deck can be very redundant if Drifblim features at all. Thus, much like the Fire counters mentioned above, it may oftentimes be better served for other options.

However, 200 to Black Kyurem EX is insanely strong, and being able to go toe-to-toe with every EX in the format is, as well. I just hate how useless it can be against select non-EX attackers at times. At any rate, as a “jack-of-all-trades” counter card, I would either go with Drifblim OR , but not both unless you can really make the space work.

General Card Notes

Silver Mirror

silver mirror plasma blastebay.com
Can be effective in the right situation.

Aside from obvious decks that would include Silver Mirror, it’s worth considering whether Mirrors could yield good results just in general. I argue that they can, but not for all of the reasons you might expect. The practical advantage of Silver Mirror is not in auto-winning matchups, but in stalling Plasma decks or Genesect just long enough so that you can mount a comeback.

I cannot think of any decks that have bad matchups versus Plasma and Genesect exclusively, and not the entirety of the top six, but blocking Frost Spear or Megalo Cannon bench damage, 1HKOs, or the like can be a big turning point. Then, when they finally do hit their Tool Scrappers, it’s too late.

Still, surprise Silver Mirror drops can turn a series around. In an online tournament I recently competed in, I played longtime player Christian Bianchi in a Plasma mirror. Although the series was a close three game series, what ultimately lost me the first game was him dropping a surprise Silver Mirror on his Kyurem at the very end of the game, when my Tool Scrappers and most of my Catchers were exhausted.

So because of this funny inclusion, he got a much-needed free win over me with a very surprising tactic! This may not work very well if your opponents are constantly scouting you each round, but if you can quietly sneak through the field with something like this, and prey on the aggressiveness of your opponents, top eight could be in your future.

An Enhanced Enhanced Hammer Count

If for some reason Plasma plagues your metagame, then running three or more Enhanced Hammers makes a ton of sense. However, as I’ve discussed above, we’ve already had an opportunity for Plasma hate to settle, and now people are trending toward other meta hate on top of that. A high quantity of Enhamced Hammers, therefore, makes little sense in the context of a Regional Championship.

I would advise that you run two where you always have run them, such as in Darkrai, and not even be afraid to run it in things like Genesect. Don’t go overkill, though, especially when consistency is such a brittle thing in the NXD-on format as it is now.

A Metagame Counter Deck!

Using all of the concepts discussed above, I decided to construct a metagame counter deck, which attempts to address every major matchup in the field right now. Feel free to give it a try online – you may see some surprisingly good results!

Pokémon – 16

4 Drifloon PLB
2 Drifblim DRX
2 Drifblim PLB
2 Victini-EX
2 Terrakion BCR
2 Tropius PLB
1 Kecleon PLF
1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Skyla

3 Random Receiver

 

4 Silver Bangle
4 Pokémon Catcher
3 Ultra Ball

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Switch

1 Super Rod

1 Victory Piece

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

8 Fighting

4 Prism

tropius plasma blast plb 5
No, I am not bananas.

So the premise is simple: Terrakion is for Darkrai; Victini is for Genesect; Drifblim and Enhanced Hammers are for Plasma; and Tropius/Kecleon are for Blastoise. Your matchups are actually very reactive, in that you won’t get to blow out the opponent until they start actually moving themselves. However, charging up your attackers is not hard at all thanks to Turbo Energize, and the default costs of your attacks are rather cheap as is.

I’ve put little testing into the concept, but so far it seems to do exceptionally well against almost all of the main archetypes. For some strange reason, it still has concerns against Blastoise. Perhaps I should run a second Kecleon, a Computer Search over Victory Piece, and a couple Double Colorless Energy just so I don’t have to be so reactive? Maybe!

As for as the forms of draw, I have a strange consistency engine, wherein I run both Random Receivers and Skyla. This enhances my odds of A) a fast Turbo Energize, or B) a turn one Tropical Beach. Simply having Random Receivers in the list mathematically increases your odds of turn one Beach tremendously, making your bad turns with no Turbo Energize much more bearable.

Unlike in Plasma or other decks in which I’ve address Silver Bangle counts, four is absolutely mandatory for a “counter” concept like this. This is because your whole gimmick is 1HKOing EXs on account of Weakness, and if you miss Silver Bangles, then you’ve lost the core goal at work here.

NEW TOURNAMENT RULES

Now that we have confirmation about all of the upcoming rules ahead of us for the new season, it’s time to really buckle down and get familiar with them. Since I’ve had to play using all of these at one point or another, I have a lot to offer in explaining how to get used to them, as well as how to make the best of them.

An Advanced Look at the Best-of-Three, 50 Minute Swiss Structure

These rules are huge, but first, let’s review them…

1. 50 minutes, plus three turns, to complete a best-of-three series.

Point one is fairly self-explanatory, so let’s dig into the rest.

[Author’s Note: The following three notes are EDUCATED ASSUMPTIONS. Any or all may prove to be untrue once the official document comes out. Please note that a lot of the points I bring up will remain true no matter what the rules are – their scope just may become wider or more narrow.]

2. If the series never leaves Game 1, then the person who finishes it, or has the least Prize cards left, wins the match.

Practically speaking, this will very rarely happen. Either one player will have the sense to concede a losing match earlier than that, or another player will win outright. Only the most epic, well thought-out single games would possibly get to this point. These sorts of “epic” games should be played just as an epic game should: To the best of your ability, and suspend your typical considerations of the clock. I simply suggest that you be mindful of it, so that you know when and if to go for a quick Prize near the end.

3. If the series makes it to Game 2, but not beyond that, then the player who Game 1 wins the match.

Even more so than in 60 or 75 minute best-of-threes, holding onto game two for dear life should be a top priority for the winner of game one. However, the game moves much quicker than it once did, meaning that you could very easily see two complete games before time even gets called. Therefore, this practically shows up more for the person whose game just took 30 minutes or more, rather than the player in an average game of 20-25 minutes.

From here, you just have to use your best judgment. Is this a game that you can truly drag on until the time expires, or is it a probable lost cause? For some decks, all that you can do is build up your perfect defense and hope for the best; but for others, it could be beneficial to concede right away, so that you have an extra game three that doesn’t come down to a draw or sudden death.

At Nationals 2012 when I used Accelgor, my plan going in was that if I won game one, but looked to be unable to win game two in time, I would scoop as early as possible so that I have the time needed to complete game three. While the 4 Prize rule is no longer in effect, and you run the risk of an auto-draw, the same logic holds: If you feel like you can’t hold onto the series, then at least try to reclaim it in a game three.

4. If the series makes it to Game 3, but does not complete, then the series ends in a draw.

You will find yourself drawing, on average, at least once every tournament, so it’s critically important that you get what draws mean. However, let’s save that for our next section.

…But before I move on, I would like to alert you all to a myth that’s been circulating around lately. Contrary to popular belief, all testing does NOT have to be done in best 2-of-three, 50 minute time conditions.

Although it’s definitely nice to familiarize yourself with the new system as much as you can, I cannot stress enough the importance of time-efficiency in testing. A critical component of the testing process is figuring out if your deck even works at all, so throwing the added element of time limits makes said process more difficult than it should be.

In addition, you can figure out a lot just from timing a single game, without wasting the time to go on to a second or third. If, for example, you just won a 40 minute testing game using Darkrai/Garbodor, it’s pretty safe to say that Darkrai/Garbodor will go on to win the whole match, as 10 minutes is usually not enough, even with the +3 rule. By playing just another untimed (or liberally timed) game, as opposed to setting yourself up for an incomplete game two, you save time and promote efficiency in testing.

An Advanced Look at Intentional Draws, Time Loss/Draw Scenarios, and How to Use Those to Your Advantage

As promised, there’s this whole, big deal about draws. We all know what it means to tie or draw, but in the context of card games and Pokémon, it essentially quantifies your match results as follows:

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Once again, this point section is speculative. However, the odds of the below point structure are much higher than an alternative.]

  • 3 points for a win
  • 0 points for a loss
  • 1 point for a draw

With the return of draws come intentional draws, as well as all of the emotionally-charged complexities related to those. Essentially, the option to draw with your opponent, achieving a mutually agreeable result that lets both players making top cut, challenges the “Spirit of the Game” because it effectively discourages playing: It concludes at least one match before it even begins, and may make several other ongoing matches irrelevant.

Believe me: I’ve seen the arguments for and against IDs all of the time, even when they were removed from organized play! But if we want to move forward in this discussion, let’s all assume that IDs do not ruin Spirit of the Game, nor are they inherently unsportsmanlike.
So you agree now, huh? Good! Let’s continue…

Intentional Draws

Felicity's Drawing Great Encounters GE 98pokemon-paradijs.com
Know when to draw.

Unlike forced draws, which are really just circumstantial, “make-the-best-out-of-a-bad-situation” spots, intentional draws are entirely in your control. In fact, by drawing at the right time, you have the practical effect of “winning” a game, i.e. you secure top cut. Keep these general rules in mind, and your first outing in the world of IDs should be much easier…

1. Save your opportunity to draw intentionally until the end of an event. This is the only time where you can reasonably secure top cut, so early intentional draws for arbitrary reasons, or because you’re playing a good friend/family member, is probably a bad idea.

Because draws are naturally fewer COMBINED points, the result is inefficient, and generally does your special people less justice than just having someone win.

2. On that same note, you can actually draw multiple games in a row once you realize that you are statistically in top cut. Have an eight round tournament and you’re 6-0? Chances are pretty good that, based on attendance, you can simply ID with your fellow 6-0, followed by the subsequent 6-0-1 or 6-1-0 you pair against.

3. Get a grip on what your resistance is like during the day, because sometimes ID’ing is the worst thing you could do. Way back during a Regional equivalent in 2004 known as a “Stadium Challenge,” about ten of us at the middle-top tables ID’d to enter top sixteen. Unfortunately, my opponent didn’t have a proper handle of his resistance, and so he ended up being 17th, and the only 4-2-1 not to make it.

4. Be prepared to not even have a say in the matter some tournaments. It’s not unheard of to have two natural draws occur, so just be prepared to do what you’ve done every prior year of Play! Pokémon: Play to win in the short-term.

Forced Draws

A forced draw can also be favorable, by turning a bad matchup into advancement in the tournament. After all, one point is better than zero! Strategically, this becomes a harder prospect when trying to “luck-win” game two as opposed to “luck-win” game one: You usually have to play fast, but with enough grit and speed chess skills, you may make the difference for your whole day in a single game.

NEW GAME NOTES (Post-XY)

new logo
NEW!

This is all VERY recent news – so much so that Japan has only had this rule change announced for a week, and we just had it announced a couple days ago. This is arguably a MUCH larger change to the way we play the game, so stay tuned. In a later article, I plan to expand a lot more on this point, but for now I’d like to give you an overview of what to expect.

Post-XY Rules

All of the new rule changes coming November 8th are available here. While these won’t be in effect for our first round of Regionals, they WILL be in effect for virtually the entire rest of the season, including the lion’s share of our first League Challenges.

For convenience’s sake, I’ve quoted each change below:

First Turn

Flip a coin before drawing your opening hand. The winner of the coin flip now decides who goes first. Also, whoever goes first now can’t attack on his or her first turn. If you win the flip, decide carefully if you want the first turn or not!

So two important points out of this: You flip before you draw, and now going first isn’t forced upon you. The positives to this are that you can make the best educated decision with your starter, and react more predictably to either your own mulligan or your opponent’s. The downside, though, is that you really do have to “decide carefully if you want the first turn or not,” seeing as how you have no clue how strong your hand will be.

Therefore, you’ll be required to know your own list better than before, as well as be aware of whether an attack is favorable, or an extra turn of setting up (through, say… Tropical Beach).

…Wait wasn’t there a third important point?

Oh, that’s right: YOU CAN’T ATTACK!!!

Although the metagame was trending away from turn one losses anyway, this is still a massive development. Gone now are the true perils of facing down a turn one Frost Spear going second, or a Mewtwo EX FTKO like back in 2011-2012. You can now breathe at least a little more easily, and have time to actually set up again. Still, it took one more rule to give evolutions a real shot again, which is the following:

Errata

Pokémon Catcher

Flip a coin. If heads, switch 1-of your opponent’s Benched Pokémon with his or her Active Pokémon.

Changes: This card now requires a coin flip. (This makes Pokémon Catcher functionally identical to Pokémon Reversal.)

Players who have wanted to run evolutions again as the primary foci of decks are cheering the world over because of this. Supporters like Reuniclus and Dusknoir can unleash havoc with far less of a risk of actually being taken out; may finally be able to pull off a quick Deafen now; and Blastoise… Heaven help you if you face off against Blastoise, because his Squirtles won’t be getting Catchered nearly as often. Perhaps they’ll be brought up by Genesect or Ninetales, but after two rough years of easy disruption in any deck, we’re finally back to where we once were.

But why does this give skill back to the game, rather than erase it due to a lack of predictability? Why is this not just going to be the confusion that was early HGSS-on? I would be skeptical of all this, but thanks to the new going-first rules, the strength of a heads on Pokémon Catcher is severely diminished, given that there will be no attacking to go with that heads. The advantage is plainly on the player going second, but even then he has to spend some time setting up – something that Pokémon Catcher isn’t useful for if it fails to get you prizes.

…And of course, there is the one functionally useless rule for now: The great Juniper/Sycamore Embargo of 2013. I won’t even bother discussing it, but here it is for your consideration.

Professor Juniper and Professor Sycamore

While there are no functional changes to these cards, you may not include both of them in your deck. That is, you may have up to 4 copies of Professor Juniper or up to 4 copies of Professor Sycamore—but if you have any Professor Juniper cards in your deck, you may not put any Professor Sycamore cards in your deck, and vice versa.

Introduction of Fairy Type

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Fairy?

With that big news out of the way, let’s muse over what Fairy type means for the TCG. To my knowledge, we’ve yet to see a single Fairy type Pokémon card revealed, so it would therefore be an unwise idea to over-speculate with no real knowledge. Despite this, we can figure some things out…

1. The significance of all old cards not interacting with the Weakness/Resistance dynamic will depend on the quality of the cards in XY: If some of the Fairy type cards end up being really good, then all of the same relevant Weaknesses will play out, and old cards will get a chance to stay relevant; if other cards out of XY that are Fairy-Weak become insanely good, then Fairies will become playable for their typing alone. You saw that to a certain extent when Dragons were introduced into the card game, so I could see that happen yet again.

As a side note, few of the current dragons short of Black Kyurem EX are good enough to justify running a fairy due solely to its Resistance. We’ll have to wait for more info.

2. Fairy Energy feeds Ho-Oh more damage! Score one for the bird.

Card Prices

Last but not least, the price of some cards will change radically. Most importantly, I would expect a huge drop for Secret Rare Pokémon Catcher due to the flipping errata making it less playable, and a huge SPIKE for Tropical Beach on account of the no-attacking rule.

Secret Rare Catchers aren’t that big of a deal for most people: Just stay calm and bling off. But for Tropical Beaches, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you do not panic! Their price is high already, so it wouldn’t hurt to at least see what Legendary Treasures has in store for us. And even if Legendary Treasures has no immediate remedy to our problem, the answer may show up in another form: Either a good Ability in time for XY, or in a ban by TPCi or PCL of Tropical Beach.

Above all, I urge everyone to stay calm, look at the market rationally, and stay on top of all upcoming and relevant information as well as you can.

So… Just What “is” Right?

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You can do it!

Put simply, figuring out what is or is not right for Regionals and beyond is a challenging question – one that depends on a lot of unknowns. But I hope I’ve helped you find what is personally right for you, your wallet, your metagame, and your future in the game after XY arrives.

Our format will be very interesting from November until XY’s full release in January/February, but until then, I’ll be looking forward to sharing some great ideas with you about how to adjust for Cities. Good luck at Regionals, and may you all walk away with lots of Championship Points and packs.


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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