Happy holidays everybody. I’ve got a solid article for you guys this week, based on my experience at Cities in the Northeast. It’ll have a little bit everything and there should be plenty for you to chew on. I’ll start by checking up on Tool Drop and then move on to some key things about Ho-Oh. I’ll give you guys a sample list and let you fill in the blanks like I’ve done in the past. I hope you enjoy this one!
The first thing I’ll talk about is how Tool Drop has changed recently and how it’s been performing. Here in the Northeast, Trubbish has been a force in each of the Cities I’ve attended in Pennsylvania. At the first tournament, Michael Natto bested Louis Balzani in a Tool Drop mirror match finals, which confirmed that Trubbish was here to stay. In the subsequent weeks, even Chatot PLB found his way into decks, which, coupled with a Tool Scrapper, could effectively end games.
While its popularity has waned slightly since the first weekend of Cities, Trubbish still pops up occasionally at the X-1, and X-2 tables. So what’s the biggest problem facing Tool Drop? What are its good matchups and what are its less than ideal matchups? Why isn’t it still winning in the Northeast? Why hasn’t it spread across the country? Well, I think I have a couple answers to these questions, so I’ll do my best to explain.
First, here’s a new list; you’ll notice not much has changed. Life Dew is in there to help out with the Prize trade against Empoleon and the mirror if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in that matchup. It’s easily replaceable with Rock Guard or Dowsing Machine.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 38
Energy – 10
The biggest obstacle facing any Tool Drop player is the Item arsenal in Darkrai. With that being said, Darkrai/Sableye itself isn’t a terribly miserable matchup, but when Garbodor finds its way to the board, the matchup becomes nearly an auto-loss.
So, why is the Sableye factor so important to the matchup? Well, because of the flippy nature of so many of the Items played in Darkrai decks, like Crushing Hammer, Pokémon Catcher, and Hypnotoxic Laser, being able to recur them with Junk Hunt is huge, but this is no secret. The reason it’s so problematic for Trubbish specifically, is that each of these Items interrupts Energy.
Crushing Hammers alone can be game-enders because while you’re putting down 1 Energy per turn, if they can find 2 Hammers, they can lock you out of the game right off the bat.
Catcher is the same way. This was one of the greatest problems that faced Tool Drop before the rotation, and with so few other decks playing Catcher it’s become almost a non-issue, but not in this case. If the Darkrai player can set up early enough, they can prevent your Energies from hitting the table by KOing anything with an Energy. If done in conjunction with a Tool Scrapper to your Exp. Shares, it can set you back a few critical turns.
Finally, in the case of Hypnotoxic Laser, Poison and Sleep can be the undoing of even a perfect start by Tool Drop. Sure, Virizion’s great here, but sometimes it’s difficult to find, especially with a Grass, and if Garbodor’s down, it is useless anyway. Looking at Junk Hunt’s impact as a way of streaming cards that damage Tool Drop in ways other than just KOing Trubbishes, its effects seem to prove almost insurmountable. If it weren’t for N’s ability to shuffle away these flip cards, any matchup against Sableye would be unwinnable.
When looking at Tool Drop’s matchups in the current format, it’s difficult to conclude that this deck isn’t a tier one deck. It holds incredible matchups against Blastoise, Emboar, Virizion, and pretty much any deck that relies on EX attackers to win games. Having the ability to deal huge OKHO’s to big EX’s seems to be conducive to success in this format. For this reason, you’ll see G Boosters, Black Ballistas, and Dragon Bursts all over the place, but what these decks lack are strong non-EX attackers.
With the exception of maybe Reshiram LTR in Emboar, all of these decks fizzle if not for their EX’s dealing one-shots to other EX’s. The great thing about Tool Drop is that you yourself aren’t playing EX’s, but you’re still dealing OHKO’s, so you’ll win the Prize trade every time. This Prize trade is also the only reason you have a reasonable shot at beating Darkrai.
Yes, the advantage they get from having Junk Hunt is massive, but once you’ve cut through 2-3 Sableyes, all you’ve got left to deal with are 2 Darkrais who have no choice but to set off Exp. Shares. Getting to 200 damage (due to Resistance) sounds difficult, but with 18-19 Tools in the deck, it’s really no problem, especially with Bangles (barring recurring Scrappers).
Empoleon is another interesting matchup for the deck. While Trubbish’s 70 HP is a liability in most matchups, in this matchup it actually prevents Dusknoir from setting up damageless KO’s (which would thereby prevent Exp. Share).
Another advantage to cancelling Dusknoir out is that a Sigilyph loaded with Tools can end the game. Over the course of a long game, where both sides are drawing Prizes nearly every turn via Attack Command and Tool Drop, the Empoleon player will often need to Scrapper Exp. Share to stop the stream of Trubbish. This, in fact, might even happen multiple times. While it seems like it’s putting Tool Drop back a turn or two, it actually just opens up a Sigilyph to find 4 Eviolites and effectively end the game.
The end goal for Tool Drop in this matchup should always be to tank a Sigilyph with a bare Bench. The important thing to remember, though, sit that you can never let the Empoleon player stick any damage on the table because it will effectively act as a Tool Scrapper (preventing Exp. Share’s effect by moving damage, and putting free uninhibited damage onto a Sigilyph with only 2 or 3 Eviolites).
I know that whenever I go into this matchup I feel confident, unless the Empoleon happens to play 3 Tool Scrapper, or a Chatot, which has actually seen some play in Pennsylvania.
To answer why Tool Drop isn’t still winning in the Northeast is pretty simple to answer. The short answer is that very few people play it. While the deck has proven itself to be a strong competitor, many people are still afraid to take the leap to playing a deck where its main attacker only has 70 HP and that gets destroyed by Garbodor. The fact of the matter, however, is that Garbodor isn’t even very prevalent.
The question you might ask, then, is that if Garbodor is such a force against Tool Drop because of Abilities, then why shouldn’t it also beat Blastoise and Emboar?
The unique thing about Tool Drop’s inability to beat Garbodor is that it’s hardly remedied by Tool Scrapper, nor is there much room for Tool Scrapper either. Scrappering the Garbodor for one turn allows you to play down all the Tools you’d like onto Sigilyphs, but once the Garbodor finds another Tool, all those Tools are discarded and you’re back to square one. Is Scrapper really worth one turn worth of damage and Virizion’s heal? It simply isn’t, which is why Scrapper isn’t worthwhile in Tool Drop.
The inverse of this is the reason Emboar and Blastoise can combat Garbodor effectively. Because these decks don’t have finite supplies of damage (Tools being discarded) they can simply use multiple Scrappers and proceed like nothing’s stopping them in the first place. This phenomenon actually makes Tool Drop more playable because fewer people will see the value in Garbodor if a few Scrappers so easily stop it.
Why hasn’t Tool Drop spread? Well, it’s for the same reason it isn’t winning—not enough people have made the leap to it. Rahul Reddy saw success with it at a League Challenge in VA, going undefeated, but that’s as far as I’ve heard the deck has traveled. Maybe I’m just biased, but if you ask me, I think Tool Drop is about to make a splash based on the things I’ve just gone over. If Darkrai/Garbodor is nonexistent in your area, you can really do some damage with Trubbish.
The next topic I’ll hit is Ho-Oh. There’s a lot to talk about with this Energy dynamo so I’ll get right to it.
With the return of Energy Switch, Ho-Oh EX is a card that is coming back into the spotlight. Around Cities time last year, Ho-Oh was making waves with a bunch of friends all of different types. In that format, the deck had a pretty good way to combat almost every single matchup, and now, with all new attackers, it’s back and almost entirely different than it used to be.
In this part of the article I’ll talk about which Pokémon to choose for your Ho-Oh deck. I say your with such emphasis because this deck could change entirely depending on your metagame. I’ll start with a skeleton list and give you guys some options on how you’d like to fill it out. Here it is:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 31
Energy – 15
4 Double Colorless
Your Energies will obviously depend on what your Pokémon are, but I’d recommend around 5 different types to get the most out of your Ho-Oh. So here are a few options for your Ho-Oh deck’s attackers.
From the Dragon Vault set, this Kyurem can dole out OHKO’s to both Rayquaza EX and Black Kyurem EX for a DCE and one other Energy with a Silver Bangle. Because of the Colorless Energy requirement, this card is a must in pretty much every Ho-Oh deck, with the only real question being how many should I play?
Well, because the card is below average against most decks, I think a lot of players would only find it necessary to include one of these in their deck, but I’d recommend otherwise. At least in the Northeast, Blastoise and Emboar have seemed to take the drivers seat, so to choose not to tech for these matchups specifically seems counterintuitive.
If, however, Blastoise and Emboar are not popular in your area, then by all means keep only one in your deck. Remember, you know better what you’ll be playing against than I do, and this deck is all about metagaming
Here’s another answer to those pesky Dragon EX’s. For the same Energy cost as Kyurem, Kecleon can take out a Black Kyurem EX in one hit with the help of a Silver Bangle. The problem with Kecleon is that it obviously cannot do the same kind of damage to Rayquaza as Kyurem can.
Fortunately for this little guy, he has some other advantages to him. The most important is that he can act as a Mewtwo in the Mewtwo war. Additionally he can Energy Crush a Leafeon, Vengeance a Flareon, Attack Command an Empoleon, etc. The point is that Kecleon is far more versatile than Kyurem is, and you’ll find him far more effective in matchups other than Blastoise and Emboar.
Just for reference, if you do decide to play both Fire and Lightning, Kecleon can actually still OHKO a Rayquaza with the help of Bangle. If you choose to only play one Kyurem, Kecleon is definitely your man as the second tech for those matchups.
It might seem counterintuitive to include another Fire attacker in a deck that focuses on Ho-Oh, especially one with just 110 HP, but you might find yourself hurting in the Virizion matchup without this guy. The fact of the matter is that Ho-Oh requires 4 different types of Energy to OHKO whereas Victini can do it for a Fire and a DCE.
You might think it’s not needed, but who am I to say that everyone reading this isn’t playing in an area loaded with Genesect. If you think you’ll be playing more than 2 or 3 Virizion variants in a given tournament, look to this guy as your backup plan to seal the deal in this matchup.
Additionally, Victini’s first attack can really give you an edge if you get it off early, or revitalize you mid game. It’s definitely not to have a bad card to have floating around in your deck; you never know when you might need some extra “firepower.”
Terrakion LTR, Terrakion EX
These guys are the best Fighting Pokémon for the job right now. Some might argue Landorus EX and Stunfisk LTR are strong and I don’t doubt they are, but because this deck focuses on type advantage and strong Prize trade, there’s no reason to throw 3 Energy away on a Land’s Judgement when you should have a Pokémon that can snag the OHKO through type advantage rather than Energy discard.
Both Terrakions hit the magic 90 and they’re good places to invest Energy because of their high HP. Regular Terrakion with 3 Energy can be a pain to KO, and even when it happens, they only get one Prize for doing so. If you ever get a Pump Up Smash off, you’re likely in a good spot because you’ve just set up your next attacker. It’s all about rotating attackers with this deck, and both Terrakions are conducive to this kind of play.
These are almost necessary in this deck for the Darkrai match.
There’s not much to say about this attacker. He’s been around for years and he’s been known to do well in decks that accelerate and move Energy around. I’d recommend at least one Mewtwo in this deck to handle the other half of Blastoise decks: Keldeo. With few decks other than Virizion playing Mewtwo, having the ability to grow a huge X Ball is very underrated in this format.
If you choose to play any more than 2 Mewtwo, Scramble Switch might even be your ACE SPEC of choice. With that being said, I’d recommend 2 Mewtwo in the event that you find yourself in a Mewtwo war. I’ll also say, however, that 1 Mewtwo is acceptable, especially if your list also includes Kecleon or Tropius in any quantity.
Like I mentioned in the Mewtwo write-up, Tropius is primarily an answer to Keldeo, but he’s such a solid one he might find a place in your deck regardless of Mewtwo count. Return is also a great attack to have in the arsenal, just in case you find yourself in a tough spot. He’s a cheap pinch attacker and can even survive a hit sometimes, specifically against Darkrais that don’t have Dark Claw attached. Grass type also allows you to deal with opposing Terrakions with ease.
Finally, one of the biggest advantages to including Tropius is that it’s another Pokémon that can make use of your Silver Bangles. Depending on how many other non-EX’s you’re thinking of including in your list, you might find yourself having to play this to accommodate the Silver Bangle count.
(This is in the case that you really want Kecleon/Kyurem but don’t think that only two non-EX’s warrant 2 Bangle but you need 2 Bangle regardless in order to find them at the proper opportunity. This justifies Tropius.)
Cobalion LTR, Cobalion EX
I personally don’t have much an appreciation for these guys as type hitters with the reduction of Plasma seeing play, but I see the value in Cobalion EX as an Energy manipulator. The regular Cobalion lost a lot of value with the release of Tropius simply because they have the same attack but Tropius’ type puts it light years ahead of Cobalion in this deck. (It’s not like you’ll ever get to Cobalion’s second attack anyway.)
If you’re looking for a Metal attacker Cobalion EX is your guy.
Virizion EX is a strong way to prevent Laser/Bank from ruining your tournament. It’s so good it should probably be included with those two Ho-Oh in the original list. The only way to warrant not playing it is if you’ve already cut all the Grass options from the deck (Tropius) and you really don’t think there will be Laser/Bank at your next Cities.
Even in the event that you’ve cut all your Grass Pokémon, you might still want to consider playing multiple Grass Energy to accommodate this guy, even though he’s not an attacker, for one reason: There will always be Laser/Bank. Always. Play this guy.
This is another non-EX attacker that retains Energy pretty well, which makes me like him, naturally. Bouffalant also boasts the ability to hold onto a Silver Bangle, which turns its 120 damage into 150. The biggest upside to playing Bouffalant is that with 4 Double Colorless in the deck already, its attack costs only two Energy effectively, which makes him a very hard hitting economical threat.
Safeguard Pokémon can be strong options depending on what your metagame might be. Again, this is another instance where local metagame is a huge factor as to whether or not you’ll include either of these Pokémon in your final list.
Note that both of these Pokémon can hold Silver Bangle, which means that any Water or Psychic weak Pokémon will usually be KO’d for just two Energy with the additional benefit of having a built-in Safeguard. Sometimes it only takes one turn of a missed attack to tilt the tables back into your favor, so take a good hard look at these guys before dismissing them.
This card could be the underrated superstar of your deck if it makes the final cut. Latias absolutely destroys Empoleon, and if you choose to play two copies, Empoleon can’t even use Escape Rope to get around its effect. If you play it well, you can stop Leafeon from dealing significant damage and thereby win almost every time.
Latias is also a great option against Virizion decks. Being able to prevent effectively every big attacker in Virizion’s arsenal from dealing damage makes it another shutout matchup most of the time (Virizion, Genesect, Bouffalant, etc.).
There are a bunch of other miscellaneous times when Latias can sit Active and prevent bad things from happening, and throwing 3 Energy onto it to attack isn’t a bad idea either. 70 for 3 seems underwhelming, but it can do the trick while your opponent struggles to figure out a new strategy to even deal damage to your Active wall.
I’ve been a big fan of this card ever since it came out, so I’ll use this section as a way of promoting this guy a little. I talked about him in my Tool Drop article so I won’t dwell on him, but I want you to know that he’s a valuable option if you’ve got the Energy to accommodate him.
Especially in this deck, where you play at least two copies of Escape Rope, having the ability to lock a Pokémon Active can effectively be a free two Prizes depending on what deck you’re playing against. If you can lock an EX Active and N lock them on the same turn late game, you can really turn things around and set yourself for a couple free Energy drops and a two Prize Luster Purge.
Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this time around. I hope after reading this article you’ve got a better idea of when to pull Trubbish out of the deck box and how you should go about building your Ho-Oh deck.
There are plenty of Cities coming up, so I recommend testing sooner rather than later. There’s nothing worse than learning things during the tournaments that you could have easily learned in testing. You’ll find yourself feeling like Cities should just be starting when really, they’ve ended and you’ve missed your opportunity due to lack of preparation.
Get out there and start testing. Good luck at your marathons everyone!
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