Today we’re going to go over all the changes happening in the game over the next few days. If you’ve read my other articles from this year you’ll see that I find myself best suited to writing a long piece about one specific deck, but since we’re in-between formats right now, with a new set just released and major rules changes looming, that’s kind of hard to do.
What I’m going to go ahead and do, instead, is talk about the aforementioned new set and rules changes and how they affect the upcoming League Challenge/City Championship/Winter Regional format, and I’ll also include a few decklists I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. Keep in mind that the decks might not be as high quality as those in my other articles as they haven’t been put through as much testing, and in some cases are just ideas that I happened upon when trying to take a look at the new format.
Nevertheless I hope they’ll be influential in helping you decide what to start testing/play/win a tournament with! As always, if you have any additional questions about anything, feel free to ask in the forums and I’ll do my best to reply in a timely manner.
November 8th Rules Changes
There are two major rules changes that launch this upcoming Friday, which we’ll go over here. I feel like there has been a lot written about what the rules changes mean (and I’m sure there will be even more in the coming weeks) so I’ll try and keep this as brief as possible while still getting the pertinent information across…
Catcher on a Flip
Overall, my opinion on this is that it’s overwhelmingly positive. I had my reservations at first, as I still had some nightmares of Pokémon Reversal circa 2011, but when comparing the two cards it’s important to remember that in that format (which was objectively pretty awful and I don’t think anyone will tell you different, just look at that year’s World Champion), we had Junk Arm, which is as broken as cards come.
Without having access to Reversals number 5-8, I don’t think that the flip will be a problem, and I think it will only serve to put more pressure on deck builders to really think about the cards they’re including rather than slam 3 or 4 Catcher into every list.
Additionally, I think we’ll see a resurrection of Bench-sitters, such as Dusknoir BCR, Garbodor DRX (not that Garbodor wasn’t already very good, though the rules change certainly does help it), and Klinklang PLS. Without fear of being gusted up out of nowhere and KO’d, I think these cards will play more of an important role in our format than they ever have before. There’s probably even more that I’m leaving out for lack of deck creation skills, so go crazy!
In conclusion I think this errata is as good as they come, and I can’t wait to see how it affects the format as a whole. I also hope that this is a sign that Pokémon Card Laboratory understands how overpowered Gust of Wind effects are, and keeps them to a minimum. In fact, there are a number of Pokémon cards (namely Gust of Wind/Pokémon Catcher, Item Finder/Junk Arm, Energy Removal, Super Energy Removal, Scoop Up & Computer Search [non-ACE SPEC]) that I feel push the power limitations in non-Unlimited formats, and should never be reprinted again.
No Attacks on Turn One Going First
This change is one that has had a little more controversy attached to it. While I think we can all agree that donks are a bad thing and that being denied the ability to attack if you go first is probably a good thing, the issue this change brings about is the power level of Tropical Beach. While Beach has always been playable and has slowly gotten better since its release, it’s only in the past few months that its value (both monetarily and in-game) has skyrocketed, and it’s possible that, now that it’s the absolute best thing any deck can be doing on turn one, it gets out of control.
Sadly, I’m not sure I have a solution for this. You can reprint Tropical Beach, but then everyone who currently owns one (including WC 2011 and 2012 competitors) gets shafted. You can force a ban on it, but that’s never something that TPCi has been done, and again, everyone who has already spent money on the card would be out of luck then as well. I think the best course of action for TPCi is to see the next season out, rotate Beach, and then immediately ban it in BLW-on.
Additionally, some folks are upset that the rules change forbids attacking entirely, and not just attacks that do damage (which are admittedly the real problem). While I agree that this is kind of silly, I understand why the rules was crafted this way, as it reads much cleaner and is easier for everyone to understand. I also would be willing to bet that we’ll see a card like this in an upcoming set…
Pichu – Basic Pokémon – 30 HP
Pichu may attack during your first turn, even if you are playing first in the game.
(No Cost): Playground
Each player may search his or her deck for as many Basic Pokémon as he or she likes, put them onto his or her Bench, and shuffle his or her deck afterward. (You put your Pokémon on the Bench first).
This is a good way to work around that complaint without having the rules read sloppily.
In addition to decks that benefit from Tropical Beach, such as Blastoise and Virizion, decks that play many low HP Basic Pokémon (aka donk targets) also benefit from this change, as do decks that need a little more time setting up in general.
All things considered I think that both rules changes are positives for the game and we should applaud PCL for instituting them. We’re seemingly getting to a point where the game’s luck factor is reduced, and hopefully soon we can relive some of the glory days of Pokémon (though the cards they’re printing don’t exactly give me high hopes for that to actually happen).
Now that we understand the format that we’re going into, we can move on to talking about specific cards. Legendary Treasures is mostly a reprint set so I’m just going to go over the important reprints and the decks/archetypes I think they’ll inspire.
I know saying this outs me as part of a massive minority, but: I love Gothitelle. I love control cards and I think that it’s actually pretty fair and balanced (especially now, but more on that in a second), as opposed to similar cards like Vileplume UD, which, no matter how much I love it, I can admit is probably a bit overpowered and not fit for every format.
I don’t think the rebirth of Gothitelle will inspire too many decks to pop up. It’s pretty obvious that the Accelgor/Gothitelle deck that Edmund Kuras won US Nationals this past year with will be relevant again, but besides that I suspect Gothitelle will mostly lay dormant, until a better combination comes along.
I’ll admit that I haven’t given this a whole lot of testing (the deck is mostly the same as it was last year and if you can find someone who loves testing versus Gothitelle you should invest in some lottery tickets), but here is at the very least a good starting point for the deck…
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 36
Energy – 4
This is essentially Ian Whiton’s Seniors 3rd place WC 2013 decklist (#FWIW), but with a few changes, the most notable of which are the uptick in Ultra Ball, which is entirely a concession to the rotation of Pokémon Communication, and the move to 4 Tropical Beach, which I think is more important now due to the new turn one rules, and you may as well make use out of the extra slots you get from not playing Pokémon Catcher.
Although I really love Gothitelle as a card, and Accelgor is my favorite Standard-legal Pokémon, I’m not sure how well this deck will fair in the upcoming format. While it’s true that it has the potential to completely lock the opponent out of the game, the fact is that Gothitelle gets much worse when people are playing fewer trainers. Pokémon Catcher goes from being a 3 or 4-of in nearly every deck, and Hypnotoxic Laser, while still very viable, I suspect will see a dip in playability now that it loses donk potential and Virizion decks get much better.
Speaking of Virizion decks getting much better, that has probably the largest impact on the deck. When the entire combo that makes your deck viable doesn’t work anymore, you obviously have a huge problem. The one thing I’ve bounced around in my head is perhaps playing a Plasma Flareon in the deck to counteract the Virizion, but as you can see I haven’t fully fleshed out the idea and I’m not sure it can even work. Regardless, if there is a way to play this deck with an anti-Virizion tech, I expect it to have quite the presence.
With all that being said, I think that Accelgor can still be well-positioned depending on your metagame, especially for League Challenges and possibly for City Championships too. It’s just very important to recognize how soft you’ll be versus Virizion and to plan accordingly (that is, understand your metagame and, if there is any secret technology that I’m not aware of, for God’s sake play it!).
Unlike Gothitelle, of which I admit I am in a minority for loving, there is not a single ounce of anything but hate in my soul for this card. While I don’t think it’s downright overpowered and I understand that it can be good for a certain time in certain formats, I wish this card hadn’t been reprinted and at this point think it does more bad for the game than good.
Thankfully, though, the card is pretty narrow and, as the format exists today, can only really fit into one existing archetype – Darkrai decks. We’ve seen a rise in popularity of the Straight Darkrai builds recently, with Israel Sosa making history by winning two back-to-back Regionals in California and Arizona with the deck, but I feel like with the way the format is progressing, Darkrai will only be viable in a build similar to Dustin Zimmerman’s 3rd place WC 2013 Hovertoxin deck…
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 40
1 Life Dew
Energy – 8
The main reason for the inclusion of Garbodor back into the deck is the inevitable rise of Virizion decks everywhere. Virizion-based decks are all around better positioned right now, something we’ll get to in just a bit. Garbodor and Crushing Hammer both help versus the Virizion decks and I think they’re enough to pull the matchup into your favor (although I need to test more, especially with different variations on Virizion), but there’s no doubt that there will be an absolute surge in Virizion, so it’s important to come prepared.
Outside of Darkrai, I’m not sure there are any decks that benefit from the reprinting of Crushing Hammer. It’s unlikely that many decks will want to dedicate slots in their decks to cards that they can’t buy back (like we can with Sableye!) especially when those cards are on a flip. There could easily be something that comes out in XY that benefits from the Hammers, but for now I think Darkrai is the only place where they’ll really feel at home.
Lastly, keep in mind that with the new 50 minute time limits, we could see a rise of a less control-based version of this deck. I haven’t specifically brewed one up quite yet, but I think the general idea would be a more basic kind of Darkrai/Garbodor deck from this format, although maybe even more aggressive (as those decks had trouble succeeding through the time limit already) with the addition of Energy Switches, fewer Sableye, more Darkrai, heavier Laser/Virbank, Dark Claws, etc.
The last of the important reprints in Legendary Treasures is Energy Switch. Though it’s the least controversial card of the bunch, it’s certainly not lacking in power. Additionally, it’s the least narrow of the cards, meaning that it has the possibility of fitting into the most archetypes.
That being said, I think the deck it’s going to pair best with is the one we’ve been talking about this entire article: Virizion. Like Darkrai decks before it, it’s only natural that a deck that has both Energy acceleration and high-cost attackers is going to benefit heavily from being able to spread that energy around how it likes. Energy Switch will help the Virizion decks avoid pesky KOs, fuel surprise comebacks, and set up better board states in general.
I’ve tested a fair amount with a list that looks like this…
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 35
Energy – 15
As with most of the decks we’ve talked about in this article, it looks pretty similar to the lists that have been running around in recent weeks (that’s the nature of a reprint set, I suppose) with a few small changes…
With the ability to Energy Switch, I like cards like Mewtwo and Bouffalant more and more. However, I think you still want to maintain a fairly heavy Genesect line due to the presence of Blastoise (which unfortunately I didn’t get to cover in this article, but did go over in its entirety last month). I think this combination of attackers is what you need to correctly set yourself up versus the field.
Tropical Beach is an inclusion that I’m not 100% sure of. On one hand, it’s pretty much the best thing you can be doing on turn one (and I’ve never much cared for Tropius PLB), but on the other I feel like there are going to be higher counts in all the decks that normally run Beach, so maybe it’s not needed?
To go along with that point, I believe Skyarrow Bridge can do some real work here as well, benefiting from all the Energy Switch tricks. However, at the end of the day I value consistency over pretty much everything and decided to stick with this list throughout testing, and it’s been perfectly reasonable. I’d love another Beach or two, of course, but you can’t have it all.
I play an Energy more than most of the lists I’ve seen running around lately, which is mostly a concession to my own paranoia, and the results I saw while streaming the Fort Wayne, Indiana Regional Championship. I watched good players lose several matches to Energy droughts and that made me a little paranoid. Mind you that Energy Switch certainly helps to solve this issue a bit, as you can move Energy off of a nearly KO’d Pokémon at the last minute, but I still think fitting in the maximum amount of Energy while not sacrificing consistency is where you want to be.
Overall, this is definitely the deck to beat in NXD–LTR. I love Blastoise and think that it’s also very, very powerful, but Virizion does have some natural answers to it, and while I think there are some interesting rogues that can pop up in the coming months, I suspect many metagames will revolve solely around the Blastoise versus Virizion matchup.
In addition to the decks we’ve already talked about, I think the rules changes and reprints open the door for some other, perhaps forgotten about decks to enter the fray once again. I didn’t have the time to construct good lists and test these versus the field, but after doing some theorymoning, here is what I’ll be testing over the next few weeks…
We’ve seen Klinklang succeed in the past; mostly recently making a Top 8 at the Fort Wayne, Indiana Regional Championship two weekends ago; so it has proven that the power is still there. Energy Switch also aides in its revival, acting like a mini Klinklang BLW at times. Add to that the fact that Safeguard-like effects are very inherently powerful, and you have the recipe for a Klinklang comeback.
To play devil’s advocate, Crushing Hammer also returns, which was pretty much Klinklang’s archenemy (I lost 2-0 very easily to almost solely this card in the semifinals of the British Columbia Provincial Championship last year). Energy acceleration has always been Klinklang’s weakness, and with Crushing Hammer being reprinted and fitting into a deck that loves nothing more than to Junk Hunt each and every turn, Klinklang’s hopes could be crushed early on.
I still have faith however, and will be doing everything in my power to make Klinklang viable once again.
Adding another entry to the “decks Kenny loves” section with Ho-Oh was an easy choice. Ho-Oh has always been fueled by Energy Switch, and it’s no different now. The ability to Energy Switch whatever color of Energy you need on to your myriad of attackers against non-Virizion decks while straight-up attacking with Ho-Oh herself against Virizions and Genesects seems like a pretty good place to be.
Blastoise will likely give it trouble as it always has, but no deck is without its downfalls. Additionally, Ho-Oh is a metagame deck and I’m sure that it will thrive in the right metagame, and be able to overcome Blastoise given the right list. It will be finding the perfect combination for the situation that will be tricky.
I don’t believe in Garchomp as much as the other decks on this list as I’ve never personally been a fan, but it stands to reason that with Catcher being much less prevalent, Garchomp stands a decent chance. Ross Cawthon already proved that the deck was better than most thought with a Top 64 performance at U.S. Nationals 2013, and the card has always been just almost good enough, so maybe the planets are finally aligned to push it over the edge in 2013-2014.
That’s all I’ve got for today. I hope you enjoyed the article and if you did, please give it a Like below, share it on Facebook, retweet it, tell your parents, etc! And as always I’ll be hanging out in the forums for the next couple of days, so feel free to direct any of your questions there.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.