I Had a (Dragon)Blast!

A Philadelphia Regionals 2013 Report
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Old school art.

Hi everyone, my name is Greg. I’m a Masters Division player from Connecticut who just got back from his first Regionals. I’ve only been playing the TCG competitively for a little under a year, but I’ve become somewhat addicted to playing and deck building!

Fall Regionals this year seemed to start off somewhat small in terms of turnout – the first 3 tournaments were unable to hit that golden number to give the Top 32 players another day of Swiss rounds. However, the last set of Regionals exploded with 343 Masters in Philadelphia and big turnouts in Texas and Indiana as well. With that many Masters, we ended up playing 9 Swiss rounds, with a Top 32 the following morning and a Top 8 after that.

While many people were excited in the beginning, many began to feel the strain of 12+ hours of play and a lackluster lunch break, which ended ~15 minutes after the end of Round 3. This led to some people dropping shortly after so that they didn’t keel over from hunger, but for the most part people were prepared with small snacks to tide them over for the long haul.

Heading into my first Regionals, I was excited to see how much my testing would pay off. I decided to play a Darkrai/Hydreigon deck that I had been finely tuning for a while, and I felt confident.

As the long-awaited day grew closer, I debated switching to a Big Basics/ deck that I ran at the end of last season (7th place in a Battle Roads, yeah!) or even straight Darkrai after Israel Sosa did so well with it, but I stuck with my Darkrai/Hydreigon because I was hoping to get some success with a variant that hadn’t seen much success in the prior Autumn Regionals this year.

Deck List

During my long testing period with the deck, I found that it had favorable matchups against Plasma and other Darkrai variants (straight and Garbodor), an even-to-slightly favorable matchup against Virizion/Genesect builds, a slightly unfavorable matchup against Big Basics (with or without Garbodor), and a near auto-loss to .

I attempted to change this through testing the deck with things like Tropius PLB, Frozen City, Ghetsis, and more, but in the end none of the things I did changed the matchup into an even one, so I stuck with what I thought would work best against the rest of the field.

Here is what I ended up playing:

Pokémon – 14

3 Deino DRX 93

1 Zweilous DRX 96

3 Hydreigon DRX 97

3 Darknessrai EX

2 Sableye DEX

1 Mr. Mime PLF

1 Virizion-EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

1 Skyla

1 Random Receiver


3 Rare Candy

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Max Potion

3 Dark Patch

3 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

2 Silver Bangle

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search

Energy – 11

7 Darkness

4 Blend GRPD



The Pokémon lineup is mostly standard. I opted for a Mr. Mime tech over another attacker due to the popularity of bench damage in the current metagame (Darkrai, Genesect, Landorus, Kyurem, etc.), and Virizion-EX was there to take care of Status Conditions thanks to the Blend Energy and Hydreigon’s Dark Trance Ability, which allowed me to move it wherever I wanted.

I also went with a 3-1-3 line of Hydreigon with 3 Rare Candy, since Item lock could have possibly locked me out of a Hydreigon otherwise (plus Zweilous is another target for the 1 Level Ball, which could help in setting up a second Hydreigon mid-game).

I think the one thing people will notice on the list is the 2 Silver Bangle. By using Silver Bangle, Hydreigon hits that oh-so-sweet 170 damage with his Dragonblast attack, allowing him to 1HKO a plethora of popular Pokémon EX (, Virizion, Genesect, Deoxys, Thundurus, Mewtwo, Tornadus… the list never ends!).

Without the Bangle, Hydreigon is still a force that can take out some menacing non-EX attackers like Kyurem PLF and Terrakion, or 170 HP Pokémon with the help of Night Spear’s bench damage. By making Hydreigon into my secondary attacker, I felt that I could really surprise some of my opponents.

Tournament Report

Philly had 343 players, which meant that there would be 9 rounds of Swiss on Day 1. Here’s a breakdown of my matches, all of which were incredibly fun and helped me meet some great players from different areas!

Round 1 vs. Nathaniel w/ Virizion/Mewtwo

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The perfect killing machine…

Masters pairings took a bit to be posted for Round 1, and after everyone was seated there was another delay, so we had a bit of a long setup period while they went over some reminders about the best-of-three rules. During the wait, I got to chat with Nathaniel and it set us up for a fun match!

In Game 1, he went first with a Mewtwo EX against my lone Deino. By the end of his turn, he was able to get a DCE and I think he also got a Virbank, but no Laser – talk about a scary start! I was able to begin setting up, but as the match went on, I couldn’t seem to put down his super-powered Mewtwo EXs, leading to my loss.

In Game 2 I went first with a pretty nice start, and I quickly take the lead as I get a turn 2 Hydreigon and Knock Out a Virizion-EX that turn and a Mewtwo EX on Turn 3. With 6 Prizes left against my 2, Nathaniel begins N’ing me down to 2 cards! I draw my 2 Tool Scrapper off of the N, but top-deck a Juniper to stay in the game. However, he N’s me again!

This time it takes 2 turns to hit a Random Receiver, which led me to a new hand. However, he had a 3rd N waiting for me, and I was unable to recover from that one, leading to another loss. What a game, though!


Later on in the day, Nathaniel and I bump into each other and talk some more, only for me to find out that he’s “Blah” on the PokéBeach/SixPrizes forums! I had a lot of fun talking with him, and I hope we can bump into each other at some more events this season!

Round 2 vs. John w/ Klinklang

During setup, John mulligans, showing me a Tropical Beach and what looks like a Superior Energy Retrieval – immediately making me think I was paired against Blastoise and I was thinking that I was going to not have a very fun set of games!

He wins the coin flip, and flips over a Cobalion-EX and a Klink, and I am both relieved and surprised! He ends up getting a turn 2 Klinklang, and I am unable to get a healthy setup going until late into the game. I drew dead for 3 or 4 turns and decide to scoop unless my next draw is a Supporter, and I end up drawing a Colress that nets me a nice hand, but it was too late. Game 1 goes on for almost 30 minutes before I scoop, realizing that there is no way I can make a comeback after he’s discarded all of my Blend Energy.

amu cobalion mangaBulbapedia
Cobalion returns!

I start Game 2 with not a lot of time left to attempt a tie, but I have a nice hand that gets me a Sableye and Deino on turn 1 plus a Darkrai. Instead of using Junk Hunt on a Level Ball, I opt to Confuse Ray and roll heads, Confusing his active Cobalion and doing a whopping 10 damage. He responds by switching out to a Klink and using Beach after an Energy attachment instead of attempting to hit me for 30 which wouldn’t have been worth the risk.

I end up getting a Hydreigon on my turn 2 and also use his Beach to bolster my hand instead of getting back some meager Items with Junk Hunt. He gets a turn 2 Klinklang, and it looks as though we are going to be in for a long stalemate as we both beach again.

Eventually I kill his Klinklang with Hydreigon, and the game is on. He responds with Cobalion and discards my Blend, but I have another one in my hand. That turn I attach a Silver Bangle and am able to get the KO thanks to Sableye’s Confuse Ray on the first turn.

Eventually time is called during one of his turns, giving me 2 turns to end the game. On my first turn I KO one of his Pokémon, bringing me to 1 Prize left. I think he scooped after that, knowing that I still had a Catcher left and nothing to put out that could have withstood Hydreigon’s Dragonblast.


Round 3 vs. Crystal w/ Darkrai/Mewtwo/Victini/Keldeo

Game 1 starts off in her favor as she initially sets up faster, but my Hydreigon quickly snags 4 Prizes and brings me back into the game. I win after a small Darkrai war since I am able to Max Potion off damage.

I scoop Game 2 after drawing dead for 3 or 4 turns and having only a Deino left on the field.

Game 3 gives me a great starting hand, and I get a turn 2 Hydreigon. However, I run out of cards to use in my hand, effectively stalling me for 7 turns. How I didn’t draw into my remaining 9 Supporters or my Random Receiver I’ll never know, but luck was not with me in this match. I eventually lose since I can’t attack after she kills my only Darkrai with Energy.


Since this round went fairly quickly for me, I went and got lunch at the nearby market with my fiancé – a Spicy Gator Po Boy to help me get past my rocky start and prepare me for the remaining 6 rounds of Swiss (6+ hours!).

Round 4 vs. Joseph w/ Plasma TDK

I can’t remember who goes first, but when we start I am excited to finally play against a Plasma deck in the tournament! I get an explosive start, quickly setting up a Hydreigon and killing most of his Kyurem. I end the game after attaching a Silver Bangle to Hydreigon for a final KO. During the match, Joseph remarks that I’m very polite while I play, and that really lifted my spirits! If you’re reading this, thanks again for the compliment!

In Game 2, Joseph changes up his strategy and begins to clear my board. I do get a Hydreigon set up between Night Spears and Junk Hunts, and retaliate strongly. Our matches took a while, and time was called during only our second match! At that point, I had slightly stronger board position and time was called during my turn, so he got 2 more turns to try and tie. I had 3 Prizes left, took either 1 or 2-of them during my turn 0 and turn 2 after time, but neither of us ended the match within the 3 turns so it did not count.

While we didn’t get to finish our second game, Joseph was a great guy and I had a lot of fun playing with him. Hopefully I can meet him at another event one day!


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I finally won a game!

Round 5 vs. Garchomp/Altaria

I start the game off with a slightly big ego after finally getting a win, and it didn’t help when I started the match and saw a Gible and a Swablu. When I first got into play Pokémon TCG competitively, I played Garchomp and used variants of it in a large number of events, so I knew the deck inside and out.

Game 1 finished quickly after I begin Night Spearing his Gabite. He does eventually get a Garchomp set up, but I retaliate with a Hydreigon to kill off his last attacker in one shot.

Game 2 ended up being very long. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but my opponent began to take a very long time to complete actions during his turn. His turns began to take 2-4 minutes near the end, all the while he had gotten an early Garchomp that was wearing away my defenses. I picked up my pace so that we had enough time to finish the match, and I ended up winning after repeatedly using Max Potion to heal off all of the 170 damage Mach Cuts he threw at me.

This game is the only one where my opponent seemed to attempt stalling – if it wasn’t intentional, I apologize!


On another note, my friend Victor who I met at HB Collectibles in Springfield, MA was on fire! He was 5-0 and tearing it up with his Blastoise deck. He was really humble about it, and wouldn’t say what his record was, but some of the other guys from HB were excited to say it!

Round 6 vs. Sarah w/ Virizion/Genesect/Lugia/Munna

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My face when I saw who I was playing against!

This was the match I had been hoping I could avoid – no, not Virizion/Genesect, but Sarah! She’s my fiancé, and we almost always end up facing each other in Premier Events, and this one is no different (except for the 341 OTHER people we could have been paired with).

The worst part about playing each other in a tournament like this is that, in a way, we paid to play against each other when we do that on a regular basis in our living room. Another downside (or upside, depending on how you look at it) is that we both knew almost every card in our each other’s deck, meaning I knew how many Switch and Catcher she ran. At this point we were both 2-2-1, too.

I end up winning the coin flip in Game 1, with an incredible start. Turn 2 Hydreigon and I quickly take a commanding 4 Prize lead! She scoops up so that she can have enough time to attempt to win 2 matches for the overall victory.

The opposite happens here – Sarah gets an amazing start, and I draw into not-so-good hands. I scoop so that we can have time to finish a 3rd game and not tie.

I start Game 3, and luck is with me again. I get a fast Darkrai set up, but her Munna BCR tech puts me to sleep, and I flip tails. Luckily I have an Ultra Ball in hand to get my Virizion-EX, waking me up to continue my Night Spears. I take a relatively large lead, and she decides to scoop since I have a commanding board presence and know everything in her deck, allowing me to play safely against her Enhanced Hammers and other techs.


Round 7 vs. Nicholena w/ Virizion/Genesect/Deoxys

After my 3 wins in a row, I felt like I was on a roll – with 3 rounds left, I could possibly make it into Top 32 if I won all 3-of my remaining matches! While an exciting prospect, I was hoping to hit my original goal of Top 64, which was slightly more obtainable at that point.

As we set up for our matches, Nicholena compliments me on my Cardcaptor Sakura playmat, and I notice that she’s got this really cool ghost-Pokémon themed dice bag. We begin chatting about ghost Pokémon, which gives our games a fun atmosphere! Anyway, onto the games.

Game 1 was probably the closest match I had throughout the entire tournament. We both teched Mr. Mime, cutting off our bench damage. Early on I am forced to Juniper to stay in the game, discarding all of my Hydreigon! Thanks to the 1 Super Rod in my deck, I am able to eventually put 2 back in and set them up.

I attempt to Catcher-stall her a few times, and it eventually works on a Deoxys, basically giving me a free turn. I’m able to get a comfortable setup after that, and begin to mount a comeback that could have made it into the history books!

As we both sit there with 1 Prize left, Nicholena risks it all with an N – bringing us both down to a 1 card hand. She draws an Energy, attaches, and hits me with a Virizion’s Emerald Slash for 50. I also got an Energy off of the N, and drew a card… a Juniper! I attached my Energy and drew my 7 new cards, which included a Juniper and 2 Max Potions, allowing me to heal off the damage next turn from the impending Megalo Cannon and draw for my last Catcher to clinch the game.

I Night Spear her Virizion for 90, and wait to see what she draws. She retreats her Virizion for Genesect, and I see the smile on her face as she plays the G Booster that she top-decked for the win! It was such a close game, and I had a lot of fun (almost) winning!

Game 2 was not nearly as exciting, as I got a pretty bum start and cant get anything going.

That win put Nicholena at 4-2-1, and I found out through online pairings that she won the next game as well, putting her at 5-2-1 and within reach of Top 32. I don’t know how her last match went, but I hope you ended up making Top 32 or Top 64! If so, congrats!


Round 8 vs. Brandon w/ Plasma TDK

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Hydreigon’s favorite snack.

Round 8 begins well into the night, and people are beginning to feel the effects of a full day of Pokémon playing. I’m as excited as ever to play some more Pokémon, and dive right into the next round!

Game 1 starts off slow for both of us. He’s stuck with a lone Deoxys while I’ve got a Sableye and a Deino. Eventually I get a Hydreigon, but still no Energy. As we go back and forth doing almost nothing, I top-deck a Random Receiver and get a Juniper, which gives me so many things to use! I play a Darkrai and Trance the 3 Darkness Energy I’ve attached to Sableye and Hydreigon onto him, allowing me to fire the first attack of the game.

He draws into something to keep him in the game, but I gained a significant lead off of my Juniper and continue to build my board position. He eventually scoops for more time in the remaining games.

Game 2 doesn’t give him a much better start, but I got some love from lady luck. He has a Thundurus and Deoxys early on, but I get early Hydreigons and begin taking out his Kyurem again. I eventually win the match.


Round 9 vs. Andres w/ Darkrai/Hydreigon

Right before the round starts, the organizers call a few tables to the front and tell them that they were not given the right opponents, but when they finally gave us the “new opponents,” Andres and I were still supposed play against each other! During all of that, the round started so we were a little behind on time, but we made the most of it!

Andres starts off Game 1 with a few things, most notably Terrakion NVI, and I’m immediately on edge since he can easily KO a Darkrai. We both do not start with any Deino, but I get mine out first. We realize it’s a mirror match, and the fun begins! I’m able to set up a Hydreigon first, and immediately target the Terrakion to keep my Darkrai safe. Soon after, I cut him off from setting his own Hydreigon up, stalling his deck a bit. He does eventually get a Hydreigon, but I win out in the end.

Game 2 starts off better for him, as he gets a fast Hydreigon and is able to kill mine off. The match goes on for a while, but he eventually wins. While writing this, I remember that Andres’ Hydreigon had 2 Prism, 1 Blend, and 1 Dark Energy attached when he KO’d my Hydreigon, but since Hydreigon isn’t a basic Pokémon those Prism Energy didn’t count toward his required Energy (he had PDCC instead of PDDC).

Neither of us caught the misplay, and it was almost 11 PM when this match was going on so I’ll chalk that up to both of us being tired from a long day of Dark Trancing.

Time is called just after Game 2 ends, and Andres tells me that he would really rather not tie, as we’re both 1 win away from possibly making top 64 and getting packs. He decides (and I agree) that we should flip a coin to see who takes the win, and he calls heads. The flip ends up on tails, and he graciously gives the win to me.

After that we laid out our decks and compared lists, talking about what worked and what didn’t work for us. He was running an Entei for the Virizion matchup, which might have helped me considering I lost to 2-of the 3 I played against. Hopefully we can have a rematch one day, Andres!



Standings were posted soon after time was called, much to the relief of everyone. I ended up placing 79th, which I was very happy with for my first Regionals. I didn’t make my goal of Top 64, but I still placed in the top 25% of players, so I was thrilled!

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One day I’ll make it!

Lots of people didn’t think that the new tournament format would work well, especially with the 50 minute time limit. However, I ended up really enjoying it, as did a lot of other people. Giving everyone a chance to come back from a bad game is really nice, even if it only results in a tie. My one “complaint” is that if the time limit were bumped up to 60 minutes, then 3 games could more easily finish within those time limits instead of only being able to finish 2 games and start a third (without scooping, that is).

Going to Regionals really solidified my love of the game – the atmosphere was intoxicating, and there were so many people to talk to and trade with. I ended up participating in the Prerelease on Sunday instead of the League Challenge, and trading afterward with people was so… pleasant! I even started a Pokémon card version of “pay it forward” after giving Nathaniel (Blah) one of my Dusknoir since he had to leave before we could talk out a trade. I ended up getting a free from Anthony soon after, so what came around went around!

I met so many people during Regionals, and I had an amazing time. I made some new friends, caught up with some old ones, and had a great time representing “Team Fletchling.” I’d like to thank my friends Andrew and Garrett, along with my fiancé for making the long trip with me! I’d also like to thank my pals Victor, Pat, Anthony, and Nicole from Massachusetts for helping me test my ideas with them during league when I could make it over there.

To all the Pokémon friends I made during Regionals, I hope to see you at other events this season!

Reader Interactions

9 replies

  1. Abe Tyler

    Nice job, and great article! Knew this should’ve made it onto the FP when I read it in the forums… Also, how do you think Darkrai/Hydreigon will fare with the new rules?

    • Greg Stempien  → Abe

      Thanks for reading, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!
      As for Darkrai/Hydreigon with the new rules, it’s a toss-up whether or not it gains anything. On one hand, you have no chance to get “donked” anymore, plus it’s harder for your opponent to kill your Hydreigon (or Deino/Zweilous) if it’s on your bench since catcher will require a flip. Another boost that Hydreigon will be getting early next year is Yveltal EX, which will act as a nice fresh attacker for the deck that can possibly improve the Blastoise match-up, which the deck desperately needs. The downside is that it may become even more popular to run decks that specialize in OHKOs, trivializing Hydreigon’s ability to move energy and the great synergy that has with Max Potion.
      Right now I think it’s too early to tell, but I think that the changes will slightly benefit the deck overall :)

  2. Adam Capriola

    Nice report Greg! I think the deck could improve heading into next format since you can hide damage Pokemon on the bench without worrying so much about Catcher. OHKOs from G Booster and Black Ballista are still going to problems though.

    • Greg Stempien  → Adam

      Thanks! I think that as long as the OHKO problem doesn’t grow with new additions in X and Y, Hydreigon should stick around with the help of these new rules

  3. Nicholena Moon

    Hey! Nice report, we had a good series. To answer your question, I tied my last round and ended up 5-2-2, 54th. :( So close.

  4. Aidan Boyce

    Nice report! I didn’t know that there was a fellow Connecticut player writing for sixprizes! (but then again I’ve been hiding under a rock for a few months when it comes to the TCG… xD )

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