Winter Regionals are almost over, so for the majority of us, it’s crunch time for States. Since the best preparation is comprehensive preparation, today’s article is a review of the cards I think will shape our format from here on out, as well as formats into the future.
How to Use This Article
When reading today’s discussion, please keep three things in mind…
1: No running in the lab. (Ash…)
2: Remember that this is a jumping-off point for testing, and not the end of it. Many of the thoughts, tactics, and lists discussed here are actually the beginning of what may be months of breakthroughs, especially since X and Y is such a groundbreaking set.
3: This article’s main purpose is discussing applications of the new set, and not necessarily new uses for old cards. You’ll definitely see recommendations on playing Darkrai, Emboar, Plasma, etc., but they’re not our primary topics of interest.
That said, let’s begin with the review!
Editor’s Note: You may want to have Bulbapedia open in a separate tab for spoilers while reading.
Venusaur-EX: In general, this is an unimpressive Pokémon-EX that should be played only to access its much more powerful Mega Evolution. 50 HP really makes a big difference, even with the already astronomical numbers we see out of Pokémon-EX.
M Venusaur-EX: Our first of only two legal Mega Evolutions, this card is – awkwardly – not that playable. Although it has the highest regular HP in the history of the game, it’s an extremely awkward card to make work.
Forgive me, but I’ll be addressing my overall Mega concerns here, and why Megas need to be really good in order to justify the finished turn:
- Mega Evolving is strongest on the first turn you can do it (turn two), before any real action has happened yet. At every other point in the game, it’s a huge risk, particularly when the opponent’s deck is set up. This is an especially big concern with Rayquaza/Emboar play skyrocketing, since that one turn spent Mega Evolving could be wasted as a result of a 240 damage Dragon Burst to the face.
- Bulky decks are at a loss in having to choose between Beach and this: Both end your turn, and both are exceptionally valuable effects. Therefore, the ideal time for a deck to use its Beaches is when the hand is weak, and use the Mega Evolution when the hand and board are strong.
Now that said, let’s return to Venusaur’s Mega…
As said earlier, this HP is monstrous, and is your go-to reason for running this thing. From that point, I could see it being played one of three ways: with a damage manipulator (Reuniclus), an Energy manipulator (Aromatisse or Hydreigon with Prisms/Blends/Darkness/Fairy), or just as a straight quad tank, similar to what we saw with Terrakion NVI and Entei-EX two years ago.
See a common theme, though? Two out of three of these decks crave Tropical Beach usage, so you’ll experience some “mega” conflicts as discussed earlier. Granted, you could make either deck work wonderfully, but be prepared for some seriously slow setup. As for the idea of quad-Venusaur, it’s very much feasible, especially since it can get free retreat via Fairy Garden.
Unfortunately, Crisis Vine is still a real trick to get out: GGGC cost means you can’t attach Double Colorless, so you’re stuck either manually attaching each Energy card, or finding some different method of charging it up. Victini-EX yet again comes to mind for me, and for good reason: It makes the most insane decks viable! But for now, I need to go test this much more extensively…
Beedrill: Beedrill is seemingly very good when you hit all three heads, dealing some of the most efficient damage out there “and” giving itself immunity for the next turn! Then, when you factor in Victini LTR, those odds of a lucky turn increase even more. However, doing the math reveals that this card is actually quite inferior:
- Probability of hitting three heads on the first try: 12.5%
- Probability of having to go for the flips again, and hitting them: 10.9%
Chesnaught: Chesnaught, like its video game counterpart, is an interesting twist on the classic bulky attacker. 160 HP puts it on par with even Pokémon-EX, and Touchdown keeps Chesnaught healthy while allowing you 2-shot opportunities against those EXs. While I’m concerned that high Yveltal-EX usage will drive this thing into less-than-playable territory, some clever timing of Double Colorless Energy drops could force the opponent into completely rewriting their game plan with Evil Ball, or even charging right into a passive knockout.
What Tool goes best with it, though? On one hand, you could complement the defensive capabilities of it with Hard Charm; on the other hand, you could reinforce Spiky Shield’s passive damage with Rocky Helmet, or even Rock Guard, making any attacker think twice before damaging Chesnaught.
Vivillon: Vivillon is… interesting. 130 HP is surprisingly bulky for the “squishy bug” of our generation, and its attacks aren’t that bad either. But rather than focus on the status attack, let’s just think exclusively about “Colorful Wind.”
When Ho-Oh-EX first came out, the way most decks tried to utilize Rainbow Burn, it came to little success. This was because, quite simply, the damage output was far too low. Vivillon is another case, though, because it deals a perfect amount given the difficulty of setting up 3-5 different Energy types, as well as a Stage 2.
How do you set this deck up, though? One obvious answer is Ho-Oh-EX itself, which can repeatedly grab back the Energy, and then you can Energy Switch it right on over to the evolved Vivillon.
“Mark of the Beast,” Version 1.0
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
With four Ultra Ball and three Ho-Oh getting off at least a couple Rebirths in a game is very feasible. And with four Energy Switch and Scramble Switch as your ACE SPEC, getting all that Energy from Rebirth onto a Vivillon is very practical. Add in the 1-0-1 Delphox tech line, and setting up a massive damage hit with Vivillon is very easy. Lastly, the two Cassius are great for evacuating Ho-Oh starts, as well as helping you conserve Energy late game.
As for my Energy split, that’s specifically for abusing Delphox and Vivillon. I’ve gone back and forth on the split, but so far it seems functional enough.
Now let’s visit the next version…
“Mark of the Beast,” Version 2.0
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 31
Energy – 12
Another option is Victini-EX, which – after a couple turns of Turbo Energize – could be more than enough to brand Vivillon with the mark of the beast. Likewise, that 1-0-1 Delphox (which we’ll discuss in detail soon) is a much more menacing 2-1-2 line, actually capable of multiple Mystical Fires on a turn, as well as decent swarming potential now that you need more Fires.
Currently, I like the Victini version better, because fitting in everything you want is a much less awkward task. Likewise, I feel no pressure against the Garbodor matchup like I would with the Ho-Oh list.
Gogoat: Gogoat requires a little bit too much to be good in general, but it has some situational uses. On one hand, hitting heads could leave you set for some time, especially if you use stall Supporters such as Cassius or Flare Grunt; on the other hand, Victini LTR is practically required if you want any sort of consistency with this thing, and a tails flip could be disastrous.
All in all, it has uses… just very, very limited ones.
Magcargo: Too much work to get it to deal 80 damage consistently (needs Lunatone), and too many Water Pokémon. Plus, Muscle Band lets almost everything overpower it, so I’ll pass on this card.
Delphox: Listed above in the Vivillon lists, and below in the Greninja list, I think Delphox makes a stellar addition to a wide variety of builds this format – most notable Stage 2 decks. While it won’t be quite the menace this format as Magnezone Prime was in its day, the “draw until you have six” effect is far more valuable in today’s context than it was back then. We have been starving for good Pokémon-based draw for years, especially in this era of Tropical Beach, so I’m sure that many players lacking resources will be happy to see this.
For purposes of your State Championship preparation, I would plan on Delphox-based Emboar lists to be reasonably popular. For one very key point, it’s a far stronger replacement for Electrode, which has picked up serious traction this Winter Regional season. Beyond that, it’s a viable attacker late game, and incentivizes Emboar players to use fewer Tropical Beach. And the fewer Tropical Beach are in a decklist’s strongest form, the more likely it will be used.
Talonflame: Talonflame’s main selling point to me is its Blow Away attack, which practically operates like a Red Card. Eventually, the opponent will hit a dead four-plus-one, allowing you to start Flare Blitzing for knockouts. However, this by itself is not all viable, so you might want to have a backup attacker to rely on over Flare Blitz. I would like to see Talonflame succeed, but there are just so many other stronger, more durable Stage 2 Pokémon in the field.
Blastoise-EX: By itself, this Pokémon-EX isn’t all that bad, and is arguably far more capable of standing on its own than Venusaur-EX. Rapid Spin lets you actually play a defense EX game, preserving resources and even setting up nifty combos with Gothitelle and Trevenant Item lock. Splash Bomb, however, is a good attack only so long as you don’t get Tails. Victini LTR can assist in keeping that from happening, but the best bet here is to take the time (if you have any) to Mega Evolve into…
M Blastoise-EX: This Mega Evolution features a limited number of benefits, but insane HP and a strong attack in the form of Hydro Bombard may definitely be worth it. 220 HP keeps it comfortably out of range of Black Kyurem-EX, or your average Yveltal-EX, allowing for at least two hits before it goes down. And speaking of hits, Hydro Bombard is the sort of Bench damage capability even Darkrai is envious of.
The first and most obvious combo is to run M Blastoise-EX with Dusknoir. Sinister Hand instantly turns Hydro Bombard bench damage into an instant 1HKO against anything, and even mitigates Mr. Mime PLF’s Airy Wall to a degree, allowing you to move active damage to it for an easy Prize.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
Although Tropical Beaching is good for turn one, your second and third turns should probably be invested in Mega Evolving. This is because you realistically won’t get many chances thereafter, especially when up against hyper-aggressive decks such as Blastoise BCR/Black Kyurem-EX, RayBoar, Yveltal, and Xerneas.
However, once you’re actually up and attacking with multiple Mega Blastoises, you can devastate the opponent, dealing an appalling 180 for just three Energy. Add in Sinister Hand, and that’s effectively 180 to “anything.”
This deck actually relies on Heavy Ball more than any other Item search: Your main attacker is three retreat, and your main support in Dusknoir has three retreat, as well. Nevertheless, we still run Ultra Ball, both to fetch out Duskulls and to supplement your Heavy Balls to further guarantee turn one Mega Evolution. And for our ACE SPEC, we run Gold Potion because we want to keep a rampaging Blastoise moving forward with its rampage, rather than falling back.
The first obstacle you should note in my list is no Tool Scrapper versus Garbodor decks. I run my list this way as not only a calculated metagame gamble, but because I believe it can overcome most Garbodor lists with brute force. However, one card this Mega Blastoise deck cannot overcome as it stands is Team Flare Grunt. With no means by which to accelerate Energy, this Blastoise deck could auto lose to multiple consecutive Energy discards, so you might seriously consider splashing in a thin Blastoise line or Victini-EX.
However, M Blastoise-EX has potential outside of this. Hydro Bombard also has great Bench damage synergy with Trevenant’s Wood Hammer, as well as Rapid Spin on the non-Mega EX. Finally, M Blastoise-EX could be a powerful asset in a poor man’s Beach-less Blastoise, giving you a legitimate turn one ending tactic.
At any rate, M Blastoise-EX has a ton of potential, and is in my opinion the better of the two. I don’t know if it can compete blow-for-blow with attackers accelerated by Emboar NXD or Blastoise BCR, but it’s at least capable of having one good, viable deck.
Greninja: Many decks over the years have had ways to win outside of brute force, and this card is the successor to that legacy. Unlike Chandelure NVI and Flygon BCR, though, it doesn’t interfere too greatly with your attack for the turn, allowing you to use it or any other brute efficiently.
The first and most obvious strategy you could use this card in is by itself: swarm Greninjas, deal 60-120 in Ability damage each turn, and then go in for the kill with either a brutish EX, hit for 50 with Mist Slash, or just Tropical Beach.
Your main concerns in building such a list will be to A) get Energy in your hand in order to use Water Shuriken; and B) recycle that Energy once you’ve discarded it. The following rough draft attempts to address both concerns…
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
This deck runs on two things: one, a quick and constant Delphox through max Candy/inclusion of Soda; and two, recycling the same Energy over and over. Professor’s Letter makes activating several Water Shuriken on the same turn exceptionally easy, and a high Super Rod count means we’ll be getting that Energy back consistently. Dowsing Machine is my ACE SPEC of choice due to this reliance on Items.
In theory, swarming Greninja should be easy; however, turn one Evil Balls from Yveltal-EX will make stabilizing early game very difficult. Thus, you’ll more likely than not be getting no more than two Greninja out at a time, requiring you to place Water Shuriken counters very carefully. Fortunately, Mist Slash bypasses effects such as Eviolite, Hard Charm, etc., so eventually pressuring Yveltal-EX into being 2HKO’d should be doable.
As a side note, you could quite possibly tech Kingdra into this concept. Seeing as how you’ll be discarding Energy constantly, hitting for a 1-shot against Pokémon-EXs is not out of the question at all. I wouldn’t replace the Delphox with it, though – maybe a Super Rod and something else…
Raichu: Raichu is, in many ways, a practical reprint of Cinccino BLW, dealing efficient and heavy damage, yet being outgunned by many other forces. Its usefulness, then, comes down to the viability of a non-EX lightning attacker, and with Yveltal-EX being a serious threat right now, Raichu could be very playable.
Not much can be said for it otherwise. My advice is just to watch the metagame carefully, and see if more Yveltal-oriented versions of Sableye pop up.
Emolga-EX: This is an absolutely bizarre Pokémon-EX: On the surface, it may seem like it is almost entirely outclassed by Thundurus LTR, but the strength of conserving Energy on the Bench cannot be understated. With Pokémon Catcher as a coin flip effect, Energy Glide is an actually legitimate attack, especially if you have something good to switch into for the turn.
The usefulness of this card may not be apparent right away, but you will see innovative players harness it in strange, interesting ways as the months go by.
Scolipede: Scolipede continues the trend of all past Scolipedes, being monstrous when out in force, but otherwise impossible to make happen.
Grumpig: Trick Step is a good attack, and with Team Plasma Grunts in the format, you may see the moving and discarding of Energy become a very viable strategy in some decks. However, Grumpig’s shortcoming for the time being is that its type and Energy cost are strictly inferior to Probopass, which does the exact same thing for two Colorless. Therefore, I’d advise you keep it on your radar, but only ever consider using it over Probopass if there is a pertinent metagame purpose in doing so, or rotation.
Aside from Trick Step, there’s not much to say here.
Gourgeist: Although Yveltal-EX being hugely popular is a nuisance to any offensive Pokémon who’s weak to Darkness, Gourgeist has two fantastic attacks that may make you think about playing it.
In the past, “spread” attacks that deal damage to everything your opponent has in play were insanely good; even attacks costing as much as three Energy (see Dark Tyranitar RR 19) would see considerable usage, just because of how good the effect was. Nowadays, though, high-HP EXs and big Basics make a once-amazing attack such as Eerie Singing Voice relatively mediocre. It can definitely be the reason you use it, as well as a perfect partner for Dusknoir BCR; however, a smart player will be quick to adjust to this sort of Gourgeist, and limit his or her Bench so that your own damage capability is limited.
Therefore, I think the real potential lies in Soul Scream, an arguably superior version to Raticate’s Super Fang due to the Energy cost. With Hypnotoxic Laser, Amoonguss NXD, or both, you’re scoring 1HKOs on almost any EX in the game – save for when Virizion-EX or Slurpuff are in play. Your list, then, could run Garbodor to Garbotoxin lock away those Abilities, giving you a clear path to 1-shotting anything.
Granted, you need a backup plan in the face of a bulky non-EX attacker, but versus the majority of decks packing EXs, I could see some serious promise in this card.
Trevenant: In this set, you will find an interesting trend: putting powerful effects once exclusive to difficultly set up Stage 2 Pokémon, or super expensive Pokémon-EX, available to the mechanically and fiscally efficient non-Ultra Rare Stage 1s. Trevenant is perhaps the strongest example of this in an already great set, since it now enjoys Gothitelle’s Magic Room Ability – only as a Stage 1.
Trevenant may very well be one of the best Pokémon in the entire set, and is my personal favorite Stage 1 by a wide margin. Now, the strength of Gothitelle is available to you by turn two, and without the use of Rare Candy. This means that deck space is much less tight, so you can pursue far stronger strategies than you ever could have with Goth.
Current discussion online suggests the most obvious plan: give Accelgor DEX ways to turn its abysmal Virizion-EX matchup around. That is a great idea on its surface, but applying it is the tricky part. Do you want to use Victini-EXs and Pokémon Catchers or Ninetales to Knock Out Virizions? Team Flare Grunt for further disruption? Tons of Silver Bangles and just hope for 2-shots? The list goes on, but here’s a skeleton to get you started.
Deck and Covenant
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 27
Energy – 4
Floating Spots: 6
Generally, this is just a typical Gothitelle/Accelgor with more space. The Switch/Silver Mirror is specifically for Plasmas running Snorlax, as the inclusion of either can turn a risky deck-out situation into a favorable position for you. Beyond that, it’s pretty standard.
Dugtrio: Darkrai-EX is still far from gone. Given that, a Bangled Earthquake for 180, or a Muscle Banded Earthquake to Sableye is really powerful for only one Energy.
Rhydon: For the first time since Noble Victories, Rhydon is a Stage 1 capable of being its own deck without the corresponding Stage 2. It’s very tricky, but with the right build, you can virtually win the game the moment you hit two heads on a single attack.
Rhyperior, on the other hand, is sheer brute force. It relies on the same flip gimmicks that its pre-evolution does, but does it solely to do damage. Because its coin flips are not capped, think of it as a good version of Beedrill, discussed above.
Conkeldurr: Conkeldurr takes a weird approach to the age-old status deck: although it deals extra damage when the Defending Pokémon is afflicted by a Special Condition, just like Ninetales DRX, it removes the Special Condition.
Now, I like that the end result here is 80 for one – that’s not bad at all, especially when Muscle Band effectively makes that 100 for one. But I still don’t like the idea of using it when Ninetales is a far faster, more efficient version of it, with a really great Ability and no status removal involved. From a design standpoint, Conkeldurr is horrible because an in-format Stage 1 outclasses it in almost every way.
Inkay: Generally, the pre-Evolutions aren’t worth noting. However, because Japanese players have access to the historical joke card “Imakuni?,” they can use it in their metagame to confuse themselves, achieving a turn one Malamar. This in turn makes it a far more serious threat there, whereas for those of us in the rest of the world, we still have to wait before any minds are trashed.
Speaking of which…
Malamar: “Mental Trash” sounds like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story, but being able to discard cards from an opponent’s hand makes for a powerful combo with Red Card. I wouldn’t rely much on its second attack, but given the obvious synergy Red Card has with Sableye (discussed in detail below), as well as the need for Hypnotoxic Laser, a Mental Trash lock strategy is completely viable.
For now, I see the “best” use of this card as a 2-2 inclusion to Darkrai/Garbodor. It may be a tight fit, but an Ability-locking, hand-destroying concept with theoretically infinite resources seems absolutely disgusting in any metagame.
Yveltal-EX: This new Dark-type EX boasts two wonderful attacks in Evil Ball and Y Cyclone. Evil Ball is, for the most part, the vastly superior replacement for Mewtwo-EX’s now outdated X Ball. For just the “cost of admission,” Yveltal does a clean 60 for two, but with more attachments on your and your opponent’s sides of the board, you could score 1HKOs against anything in the field.
More importantly, though, is the potential for a turn two knockout against any EX: With a turn one 60, followed up by turn two 90 via Y Cyclone, you’re just a Muscle Band or Hypnotoxic Laser away from obliterating almost every thing in the format.
Y Cyclone is a particularly good attack, as well, but for swarming purposes. Because you can supplement it with Energy Switches, as well as healing cards like Max Potion, you can continue to loop the same two or three Yveltals over and over again, only being outdone by 1HKOs.
For now, my thought is to just include it in the standard lists you’d see with Darkrai, only increasing your Energy Switch count, increasing your Max Potion count, slightly lowering the Darkrai count, and then including three Yveltal-EX.
Yveltal: Although not as exciting a card as its EX cousin, Yveltal could serve its own purpose. Dakness Blade is a decent attack, but your main selling point for it is Oblivion Wing, acting as an offensive alternative to Junk Hunt when you’d rather deal damage than search for Dark Patches. It also has an advantage over Sableye in these instances because it gives you instant gratification, whereas with a Junk Hunt for Dark Patch, you run the risk of the opponent using an N to get rid of it.
This is, for the most part, untested for me. Still, a single copy in a Darkrai/Yveltal concept could work wonders.
Skarmory-EX: Not only is this card out of place and random for a new generation starter set; it’s also out of place and random when compared to other Pokémon-EX. However, it actually serves a very nice niche in the format, which is simply to discard Tools while dealing some legitimate amount of damage. This serves many distinct purposes, including removing Muscle Bands and Silver Bangles off of attackers, Silver Mirrors and Float stones off of Gothitelle/Trevenant, or wearing down Trubbish decks by bringing up Sigilyph for a quadruple discard.
In my opinion, the best role it will play is as an occasional tech in Plasma. Aside from just discarding Silver Mirror, its Energy requirements fit very nicely with the typical Plasma Energy distribution, making an MMC Tailspin Piledriver realistic. This means a 1HKO on damaged Xerneas-EX, which ultimately means that Plasma has some sort of answer to everything coming out of the new set.
Aegislash (Shield Stance): The most common way we’ll see Aegislash decks operate is with a King’s Shield lock, preventing all damage done to it until the end of the game. Although this requires a lot of set up, Switching, or both, a fully-charged Aegislash is extremely good versus decks that win solely with damage, such as Blastoise or Emboar. Similarly, it can be a nightmare for the new Xerneas and Yveltal decks, although common items such as Crushing Hammer and Pokémon Catcher can wear it down.
At the moment, I have no ideas for how to make this thing practical, but I would highly advise you keep your radar on this card. It’s worth testing.
Aegislash (Blade Stance): This version of Aegislash seems far less useful than its Shield Stance cousin. In this format, 120 damage for four Energy is not that stellar, especially if it’s in a deck that has no need to counter Safeguard. If I had to predict now, I would say that it’s far more likely people will include this as a tech into Shield Stance-based decks, as opposed to the other way around.
Slurpuff: My “Stage 1s are absorbing all the neat old Abilities” comment builds traction when we look at Slurpuff, who is essentially the Fairy-type Virizion-EX. Unfortunately, its severe lack of bulk, as well as lack of a good attack, makes it much easier to counter, and much more useless aside from its stellar Ability. If Accelgor or M Venusaur are real threats, then I’d consider a 1-1; otherwise, stick with regular switching to evade the Hypnotoxic Lasers.
Aromatisse: I love this card, and am stunned they gave the classic Venusaur Base Set/Hydreigon ‘Energy Trans’ Ability to a Stage 1. This makes it so that Aromatisse’s utility lasts beyond Fairy type attackers. Whereas obvious stuff such as the Xerneas deck will be common, you can also run a more tech-based version of the deck, emphasizing Aromatisse’s Energy-moving with Prism Energy and different types.
For now, though, we’ll be sticking to the potentially monstrous Xerneas deck, to be addressed in a little while.
Xerneas: This is the cornerstone of all standard Fairy decks you will see come out of the State/Spring Regional Championship metagame, so get used to it! With Geomancy, you get extraordinary Energy acceleration, which – when combined with Aromatisse – lets you set up a possible turn two 140 with Xerneas-EX. It’s also a built-in Sigilyph and Suicune counter, hitting for a clean 100.
While it’s certainly not all that strong going first, I’d advise running a high count of it, just so you rarely go without the speedy Geomancy.
Xerneas-EX: Both of Xerneas-EX’s attacks are excellent. Its first attack lets you play “mini-Darkrai” strategies, tenderizing multiple opposing EXs at once to set up later sweeps. Meanwhile, X Blast can potentially Knock Out any non-Mega EX in the game, hitting for an overwhelming 160 with Muscle Band, plus 30 more if the Defending Pokémon is Poisoned. However, Mr. Mime PLF is still a present threat in the metagame, and hurts Xerneas-EX’s Bench damage even more than it hurts Darkrai’s, who can at least get around it thanks to Garbodor’s Garbotoxin.
Now that you know all of the cards, let’s piece together a starter version of what will soon become a force in this State Championship season…
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
This build lets you do all of the above Fairy tricks: Xerneas will charge up your board; Aromatisse will move the Energy around to your main attackers; and your Xerneas of choice, EX or regular, will start scoring easy two and 1-shots, thanks to high base damage as well as Muscle band and Hypnotoxic Laser.
Although this list implements all of the above-mentioned points successfully, one concern I have is with my Supporter line. When set up, this deck plays the board very well without needing much else, but as it stands, 12 Supporters is far too few, and 8 draw leaves me very wary. However, Computer Search and Tropical Beach alleviate this problem, making the probable “fix” very simple, such as including two Shauna.
The Stadium line is controlled chaos. My main method of 1-shotting opposing EXs depends on Hypnotoxic Laser, so Virbank is my default preference in the mid and late games. However, Tropical Beach is a strong Skyla choice when going first, and Fairy Garden is just as strong when going second to set up that turn one Geomancy.
Computer Search is my ACE SPEC of choice for two reasons. First, there are several moving parts to a game when using this deck, so being able to search out exactly what you need at any given moment can be crucial. Second, it’s only one of two ACE SPECs capable of searching for Basics directly, and the only good one, so naturally you may need to use it for Geomancy.
Tauros: Although normally Tauroses get the shaft, this version of the Pokémon is a great fit into Reuniclus decks. Although based somewhat in luck due to its flips, a damaged Tauros has the ability to Knock Out any EX in this format with one shot. And in case you miss your flips the first time, there’s always Victini LTR, who can just let you try again. Add Muscle Band into the mix, and a Damage Swap deck could pose a serious threat.
Swellow: As a tech line, this can be a “soft” method of warding off Item lockers like Gothitelle and Trevenant. However, most of these lists will be aiming to get multiples into play, meaning that this Ability becomes relatively useless. And in matchups without Item lock, multiple copies of Escape Rope are generally better, because you don’t need to get a Pokémon into play to do it.
Diggersby: Diggersby may look like a Sableye replacement, but the role it will fill is fundamentally different from that of the Dark-Ghost goblin.
Furfrou: This is basically a bad Bouffalant DRX, only with the ability to be played as an Energy removal gimmick. The idea is simple: Run Furfrou with four Team Flare Grunt, four Pal Pad, Crushing Hammers, Enhanced Hammer, and Victini LTR. That way, you have a 75% chance of Energy discards with your Furfrou, 100% with Grunt, and 50% with Hammer, allowing you to wipe out an opponent’s entire field of Energy in a single turn.
To that end, it may be a… good card?
Evolution Soda: I haven’t seen an Evolution acceleration card like this in years, and I definitely haven’t seen it in our modern era of Pokémon. Evolution Soda is a fantastic card, but due to not being able to break Evolution rules with it the way you could through Broken Time-Space, its usefulness is far more limited. Nevertheless, at least one of the decks featured above makes great use of it, and I imagine there are several more ways I could configure other lists so that Evolution Soda works more wonders.
Still though, Rare Candying is far from over, especially since it’s a more space-friendly decision. Whereas Rare Candy can outright replace copies of a Stage 1, you still need said copies when relying solely on Evolution Soda, meaning you could spend as many as three extra spots just to get some sort of extra speed boost. In some decks, this is a wonderful choice, but in many others, it does you no good. Therefore, I’d recommend you think carefully about the implications of one over the other: both are insanely good cards, but not interchangeable.
Roller Skates: As only one of two primary Item draw cards, Roller Skates will maintain some significance this format. Although a tails flip could prove disastrous in some games, it is for the most part perfectly balanced as far as Item draw goes, allowing for impressively fast decks – arguably better than Bicycle because it can be used no matter how large your hand size is. But for more conventional setup decks, or even the lot of archetypes we have going into this new set, Roller Skates has little to no place because of how unpredictable it can be. So unless you’re relying on getting out something quickly, I’d leave my flipping to Pokémon Catcher, and not my draw engine.
Muscle Band: For the record, I hate cards that make other cards from the previous block defunct. It makes Dark Claw virtually unplayable now, and even makes non-EX users think twice about including Silver Bangle – the renowned EX slayer – in lists. Still, as much as I hate Muscle Band, it is without a doubt one of the best new cards in X and Y. Now nothing is safe in any matchup, and several of your old match calculations involving Mewtwo-EX, Rayquaza-EX, or even Black Kyurem-EX will be thrown off severely.
+20 to any attack is a godsend, and is the one surefire way to end a game fast. Thus, it will be a surefire inclusion in several decks, to the point where I question why I don’t include it more often in the above decklists.
Professor Sycamore: As you all know, Professor Sycamore is the exact same thing as Professor Juniper. However, since he is fabulous, I wholeheartedly encourage you all to run it over Professor Juniper, who is not. So please disregard all advice in this article encouraging you to run “4 Professor Juniper,” and go with the one man who really deserves it.
Team Flare Grunt: I’m absolutely in love with this card. Energy denial has always been one of my favorite mechanics, but in the current format, it just seems so broken if done right. Sure, many prominent cards such as Dark Patch, Xerneas, Blastoise BCR, and Emboar LTR all bypass it, but against almost everything else, playing four Team Flare Grunt could result in an auto-win for you. The only awkward part of playing it is, of course, having to use your Supporter for the turn on something other than draw or search. However, the effect is well worth your time, especially in the right deck.
Super Potion: Super Potion is the awkward middleman between Potion and Max Potion: too much of a downside via the one Energy discard to make it obviously better than Potion, yet far too little damage to net a benefit comparable to Max Potion. In my general theorizing, as well as building the deck’s in this article, I could rarely see justifying Super Potion’s usage over Max Potion, and I will likely remain in that position.
For now, I see it as a good card to play alongside Potion, Max Potion, and Gold Potion in obscure tank decks – not usage for its own sake. However, perhaps its niche will be high-Energy attackers that cannot otherwise afford to play Energy Switch and Max Potion, so keep an eye out for that.
Professor’s Letter: You’ve seen it in just about every list posted here today, and for good reason. Pokémon Card Laboratories outdid itself yet again, letting power creep dominate the decades-old Energy Search by way of double the effect. This makes it better for its intended purpose of supplying Energy, better for deck thin, and just all around the superior choice. Blastoise and RayBoar will both be using at least one if not two copies of it to supply their unique Energy requirements, and many more decks will love the ability to guarantee consecutive attachments for two turns in a row.
Red Card: Red Card is an awkward card. While it stands to be one of the best disruption cards of the season, it can also be a nuisance in the early game (not a draw card for you) as well as late game (too many free cards for them).
For that reason, you find that the best times to play it are in decks with the consistency to handle hitting a no-draw Item like this, and/or the middle of a game, making Sableye an instant smash hit with it. Imagine, if you will, having to play two turns in a row after your opponent used Red Card on you. Three? Four? The whole game? With Sableye, it’s possible, and probability may eventually hit you with an unplayable hand.
Based off of previous Nationals and Worlds results, I have an extremely strong hunch that a deck able to successfully utilize both Red Card and N will be the deck to beat. And if that deck features Sableye, well, expect a very boring World Championship, and a Sableye three-peat.
Hard Charm: Hard Charm is yet another great defensive deck option, especially in a format that loves huge damage. And since it applies to any Pokémon – not just Basics – it is outright superior to Eviolite. However, Muscle Band will also see heavy usage come States and Regionals, so you may be at best aiming for a break-even on the damage negation. Your best friend, then, will be numbers; that is, if the metagame warrants playing only two Muscle Bands in most decks, your defensive deck running three or even four will typically leave you with the advantage. Tool Scrapper is still here, though, so it may ultimately be the least played “good card” out of X and Y.
Cassius: A long time ago, there was a magnificent card known as Mr. Briney’s Compassion. This wonderful thing allowed you to evacuate your damaged, non-ex Pokémon over and over again if you wanted. However, that was the catch: It could only work on non-ex Pokémon. Cassius, on the other hand, lets you do just that, but for Pokémon-EX, as well, and in a way that’s more resource-friendly than Max Potion. It also doubles for Switch, since it can be played on an Active as well as Benched Pokémon.
The only downsides to this magnificent card are that A) it uses your Supporter for the turn; and B) it shuffles your Pokémon back into your deck, rather than leaves it in play or the hand. But for now, it’s an excellent choice in decks where it will fit, and could easily attain “1-of” status.
Rainbow Energy: The most influential Special Energy in the game’s history is back! Let’s review the many roles it has filled in the past, which is it highly likely to fulfill once again.
First, Rainbow Energy gives a deck the potential for perfect type coverage. By this, I mean that no matter what types you run in a list, you have exactly the Energy you need, even in absurd decks featuring all ten types (including Colorless).
Second, Rainbow Energy expands tech options. Whereas an Aromatisse “tech” deck like the one discussed above would have been completely nonviable in the face of Enhanced Hammer, it now is a very real threat thanks to being able to run 4 Rainbow and 4 Prism in the same list. Similarly, certain Plasma decks could pull crazy stunts, utilizing 4-of each so that players can pop up with surprise techs in the middle of a game.
Finally, it puts damage on the board for decks that like to abuse that damage. Reuniclus Damage Swap, Outrage attackers, and many more concepts that have stormed the highest levels of play are feasible again.
Although we likely will not see too much of Rainbow Energy in the first weekend or two of States, I am extremely eager to see what players do with it in upcoming months.
This X and Y overview may have been longer than most articles, and especially longer than my typical ones, but there’s just so much to cover here. And like real-world biology, the craziest thing is that I’ve yet to even scratch the surface.
I plan to test as extensively as I can for the next couple of months, figuring out everything I’ve yet to know by this point to make this State Championship season my “March miracle.” So best of luck, everyone – bring home some State titles!
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