Hey everyone, I’ve got a fun article for you guys this week and one that I’m really going to enjoy writing. I took a pretty interesting deck to Regionals last weekend this article will be all about why I chose the deck, why I chose which cards, how the deck performed, and what I think the deck might be capable of moving forward.
The deck I’m talking about, of course, is Tool Drop. I guess the first thing to start with is the list I brought to Regionals, but even before that I’d like to explain why I picked this deck to begin with.
Early in October I was considering the format in an attempt to decide what I might want to play for the upcoming Regionals. I perceived the top decks to be Blastoise, Plasma, Darkrai/Garbodor, and Virizion/Genesect. One of the most important things I realized early on was that Garbodor would die down because of the time limit and this forecast served me well.
I disregarded Darkrai and Garbodor because I didn’t believe they could stand independently of each other in any other decks, and from there, my work was cut out for me. I knew I had to beat Plasma without question because I was sure it would be the most popular deck.
I also thought Virizion/Genesect would be second in popularity so that deck would need to be covered also. Blastoise was the deck I underestimated, however. I knew it would be present, as it always is, but I didn’t think it would do well, let alone win the tournament.
Anyway, after having spoken briefly with Kevin Abernathy from CO early in September he convinced me of the validity of Tool Drop. He made good points about its Prize trade and its advance in a time-stressed environment. I wouldn’t understand either of the concepts fully until way later down the road, but this conversation was the planting of the seed.
I didn’t touch cards for a while in September until Luke Deuser from NJ stopped by to test. I played my Genesect/Virizion/Deoxys deck and he played Tool Drop to my surprise. I won a very tight match against him, but I recognized the potential his deck had. His version played Colress Machine, but I thought it too clunky, so the first decision I made when assembling the deck was cutting Plasma out altogether.
The thing that appealed to me most, and what ultimately made me apply myself to devising a list was the potential Bicycle had in the deck. If the deck was based solely on dropping down Sigilyphs with 4 Tools each, then why shouldn’t I be able to drop every hand I saw down to 1-2 cards? The Bicycle appeal was so strong it literally drew me to BebesSearch to start drafting a list, the first cards of which were 4 Bicycle.
I’d learn, however, things weren’t as easy as they seemed, and dropping 4 Bicycles for 3-4 cards each was definitely not going to be possible; testing brought me back to reality. I would end up cutting down to only 3 Bicycle, which was the last and most difficult exclusion I had to make, and it was no doubt painful.
Fortunately for me, the deck presented itself as a puzzle and I loved playing every testing game because I could make things up as I went, there were no cookie cutter lists online to reference, just my own repertoire. When I drafted my first list I knew what I definitely didn’t like in the deck, but I had no idea what I’d eventually end up tossing into the mix by the end of it all.
So, here’s the list I used at Philly Regionals:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 39
Energy – 9
I think it would probably make sense to explain a few card choices here, as not all of them are necessarily traditional. Sigilyph, Trubbish, and Masquerain are all self-explanatory and absolutely necessary for a functional Tool Drop deck so I’ll leave those be and talk about some of the more interesting techs and numbers.
The majority of my testing games were spent in my dining room opposite Frank with his straight Darkrai deck. This matchup seemed winnable to me, but definitely not easy. I found that I would win the games where both of our decks set up successfully, but it wasn’t always that easy. Sometimes I’d have just a slightly worse performance out of my deck, and his Sableye would take advantage of the game quickly.
I noticed soon that the problem wasn’t only Sableye, but the Lasers. Frank’s list included one Tool Scrapper, which wasn’t difficult to play around, but the four Hypnotoxic Lasers were a huge pain, and I needed a solution.
Switch was never an option, despite my brother’s urge to include at least one copy in my deck. I knew I’d never find it when I needed it and I’d always resent it not being a Float Stone whenever I had to dump it on a Juniper. I wanted something searchable, or something permanent, or something that could do more for me than just get rid of my condition once. The first solution was Audino.
Level Ball-able and Super Rod-able, it seemed like a perfect fit. Not only could I use it more than once potentially, it gave more application to my Level Balls, which I found were going to waste more often than not late game once my benched filled. On top of this, the 10 heal could be huge for preventing poison from claiming knock outs, and therefore preventing Exp. Share from going off.
In testing, the card did what it was meant to, and I even really wanted to have a 2nd one so I could find it easier. The problem, however, was that it wasn’t always preventing poison KOs and without that assurance I still couldn’t reliably set up Exp. Share plays for subsequent turns when it was still a question as to whether or not I would actually get to keep the energy from the Knocked Out Trubbish.
It wasn’t total “trash,” but it did leave something to be desired; it would have absolutely made the final list had I not found a better, more concrete solution.
The second solution my brother advocated was Keldeo. I liked it when he first mentioned it but my skepticism outlasted my infatuation with the card. It was unsearchable, but worst of all, even it was susceptible to the dreaded “Laser lock.” Additionally, it didn’t really solve problems any better than Audino did because my Pokémon were still liable to get Knocked Out via double Laser anyway.
Being the only EX in the deck was also very unattractive. I hated the idea of losing 2 Prizes to a Catcher at the end of the game so I wanted to keep from playing EX’s as much as I could. My attitude toward EX’s would change down the road, however, but I’ll explain that later on.
I decided that Audino, being searchable was still a better option and that I wouldn’t even bother trying to add Keldeo into the mix. It’s also worth noting that bench space is tight and Audino didn’t prove difficult in that regard either.
I know what you’re thinking. Latios has nothing to do with poison! It’s not even a good card! Why would you even consider playing this? Well, to be completely honest with you, this was one of the missteps I made when figuring out the deck — however small it may have been. My logic behind including Latios was sound, and it even performed well in practice, but it was definitely not as strong as Virizion and it didn’t serve any particular purpose like Audino did. It was a “win more” card.
Anyway, the logic behind having Latios in the deck actually led me to Virizion so I think it’s worth explaining, even if only briefly.
My thought was that Trubbish was the most valuable asset on my side of the table at all times. If I could hold onto a Trubbish with 1 Energy, the next turn it would swing for 2 Prizes most of the time, so I knew I needed to protect them. Part of protecting a weak asset is making it seem unimportant in comparison to the rest of your board, and that’s what Latios did.
I knew I needed an EX — any EX — to take the eyes off my benched Trubbishes with Energy. If I could convince my opponent that it was more important to draw 2 Prizes to Knock Out a Latios than it was to KO a Trubbish with an Energy, it meant I could preserve Trubbish, even if only for one additional turn. The beauty of Latios was that it could sit on my bench with an Exp. Share and absorb Energies while my Trubbishes were Knocked Out, which made it increasingly more threatening and enticing to a Catcher. It’s worth mentioning that Latios could even swing in for a KO on an EX with Luster Purge, so it could act almost like a Trubbish even.
The best part was that it had 170 HP and an unpopular Weakness, which meant it would be hard to take out in one shot. This meant that if my opponent actually decided to target the EX, they’d most likely have to burn two Catchers and two attacks to get rid of it anyway — the same Prize per turn exchange they would have gotten KOing Trubbishes.
The fact that Latios was hard to KO and could blow up into a huge threat made it a great choice as a distraction from my Trubbishes. Most of the time, it never even attacked despite having a few Energy on it, but I’d like to point out that Mach Flight could actually be a game-saver in the right situation.
I digress. The card’s ultimate significance is embodied in what came of the theory behind it: Virizion-EX.
Probably the most questionable card choice in my deck, but definitely one of the most rewarding, was Virizion-EX. The unique thing about Virizion is that not only does it heal Special Conditions, but it also makes Trubbish impervious to even receiving them. No other card in the game right now offers the same kind of Laser protection, and with the emphasis Tool Drop places on Exp. Share, it needs the best “Laser insurance” available.
The biggest problem with Virizion is that it’s completely unsearchable with the cards in my list. I thought about maybe adding an Ultra Ball or two, but there are hardly any cards worth discarding in this deck because of how important each of the Tools are. Another problem with Ultra Ball was that I didn’t play Skyla either, so Ultra Ball itself was unsearchable, making it not very useful anyway. I just had to rely on drawing it via Bicycle or Supporters, a strategy that seemed to work well.
I think I can attribute the success of finding Virizon to the fact that it’s not exactly an urgent card to find most of the time. You’ll have a lot of turns to look for it because Lasers usually won’t play a role until turns 3-4 anyway. As long as there’s a bench spot open for it, as soon as Virizion finds your hand, it hits the table and stays there for the rest of the game with an Eviolite.
An important thing I came to understand from my tinkering with Latios was that my Energy didn’t need to all be Psychic. For Latios it was Water, and for Virizion it would obviously be Grass. I realized that hardly would I ever be in a situation where I only had 2 G Energy and they were both on Trubbish at the same time. This made the Energy lineup much easier on me.
Additionally, because I was cutting both the Latios and the Audino from my list, it opened up a spot for the 9th Energy as well — everything fell into place with the addition of Virizion.
I’ve been hyping Mr. Mime’s Ability since the card came out, even in my older SixPrizes articles. The card is undoubtedly great and it’s become even better with the inclusion of Virizion to the format.
The most appealing thing about Virizion/Mewtwo to me is that it’s so difficult to break a Virizion/Mime wall. Decks have literally no choice other than to 2HKO EX’s now, which makes them far more valuable. This takes the spotlight off Darkrai because the extra 30 from Night Spear would often set up 1HKOs. Not only that, but because Virizion shuts down poison, it’s impossible to reach high numbers.
Having both Virizion and Mime in the deck gave me a certain amount of control over what was going to happen on my opponent’s turn, outside of a Catcher, which was easy to predict and often ineffective due to the nature of Tool Drop. Most of the time they’ll want to KO the active Trubbish anyway.
Kevin Abernathy was the first person to bring up Mime to me and I’m really glad he did. The card was great and it made sure double knockouts were never a factor. My opponents would have to Knock Out 6 individual Pokémon if they wanted to win the game. I owe Kevin a lot for being the only one to encourage me to play the deck and helping me fine tune the list.
If you’re looking for some elaborate explanation as to why I picked 17 as my Tool count, you’re not going to find one. The number actually just occurred naturally when I hammered the list out on my first draft and it happened to be the magic number. At first I had 4 Bangle and 2 Float Stone, but I realized that you’d only need 1 Bangle at a time for Trubbish and missing a retreat could be game changing, so I adjusted accordingly.
If you’re wondering though, yes, this number is negotiable. I could see cutting a Tool somewhere for an extra spot, but I could also see adding another Tool to secure big 1HKOs. There were some games where I found it difficult to get key KOs early on due to a lack of Tools on the table.
My tournament was a little scary at times, but ultimately I hit some really key matchups and managed to find myself in the Top 4. Here’s how the tournament went, just briefly.
R1 – vs. Johnathan Lattin w/ Plasma
All three games close, from what I remember. Silver Mirror ultimately got the best of him.
R2 – vs. Nicholena Moon w/ Virizion/Genesect
She didn’t really get anything going in either game, missing Supporters etc. Not a representative match.
R3 – vs. Evan MacPhaul w/ Virizion/Mewtwo
Watch for yourself, courtesy of On The Bubble!
(Video coming soon.)
R4 – vs. Ryan Sabelhaus w/ Blastoise
The second game was closer than the first. I streamed 2 N’s and set up game wins in the final two turns of the game, but I was ultimately trumped by N’s of his paired with knock outs on my bare Sigilyphs.
R5 – vs. Louis Balzani w/ Plasma
I don’t really remember this one, but Plasma is the deck’s best matchup. All of its EX’s have 170 HP which makes for easy knockouts, and because everything is Plasma, Silver Mirror runs the game.
R6 – vs. Jay Leppo w/ Genesect/Virizion
I had to stare down T1 Emerald Slashes both games. The deck ultimately fell because of the lack of non-Plasma Pokémon, however. Silver Mirror was really the MVP here.
R7 – vs. Nick Capobianco w/ Plasma
Nick actually lost the first game after he ran out of Scrappers. (I think he might have only played one.) He decided that the matchup wasn’t worthwhile and that he was too tired from baking cookies, so he scooped to give me time to grab a bite to eat. I was definitely very grateful for that.
R8 – vs. Jamie Depamphilis w/ Big Basics/Garbodor
He had no trouble getting attackers in game one, but never found the time to get a Trubbish of his own down which meant my Sigilyph could wall up against a Landorus and bring about a lot of nice situations for my Trubbishes. Game 2 he donked my Sigilyph with a Tonadus/Laser/Bank. Game 3 I won by T3 on a bad draw.
R9 – vs. Angel Miranda w/ Virizion/Mewtwo
Games 1 and 3 were both pretty tight from what I remember. We both missed Supporters at different times, but eventually the Prize trade worked out in my favor, trading my Trubbishes for his Mewtwos. Game 2 he donked my Trubbish with a Mewtwo.
R10 – vs. Tyler Jones w/ Plasma
R11 – Bye
R12 – vs. Nick Chimento w/ Plasma
Game one was very close, but because he benched two Deoxys he fell to a game-ending Catcher at the very end. Game two wasn’t as memorable, but once his Scrappers went, it was smooth sailing for my Mirrors.
R13 and R14
I intentionally drew with Sam Chen and Francis Ibijemilusi to bring the three of us into cut. We would end up placing 1, 2, and 3 later on that day.
Top 8 – vs. Johnny Rabus w/ Lugia/Plasma
Game one was close but because he only played one Scrapper and three Catcher, the Mirrors got the better of him. Game two he used his Scrapper on the third turn to prevent a KO while I missed Supporters. Eventually, with just one Trubbish left, I drew into a Mirror and used Tool Drop for 20 until all his Pokémon were Knocked Out.
Top 4 – vs. Sam Chen w/ Blastoise
Both games were pretty rough for me. I drew 2 Prizes in each game, but I could never get the cards I needed when I needed them — I’d always have Energy when I needed Tools, or Pokémon when I needed Energy. Things just didn’t go my way either game.
I absolutely think the deck has a ton of potential moving into the new rules. Two of my losses at Regionals were T1, so I can definitely appreciate the new T1 protocol. Additionally, Catcher isn’t really all too important for Tool Drop, but Tool Drop is definitely very susceptible to Catcher. Now that the deck doesn’t have to worry about Trubbishes being KO’d on the bench, it can actually set up multiple Trubbishes before launching a stream of them into a wall of EX’s.
I think the only card the deck really gains from the new set is Elesa. Being able to search for 3 Tools can potentially swing 90 extra damage (if you search for Silver Bangle and don’t have one in play already). This would beg the inclusion of Jirachi-EX, especially with all the emphasis on Level Ball, but that also carries with a set of risks I may not yet be willing to accept. Bench space is also very precious for this deck, so Jirachi and Elesa might not have a home here, but there’s still a lot to be tested!
I hope you guys liked my article and I hope it shed some light on what a Tool Drop deck actually consists of. Be warned though, Tool Drop is deceptively strong; you should definitely not take it lightly if you find yourself sitting opposite this deck in a tournament!
Good luck to all in the coming season,
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