On the Move

Regionals Reflections and XY Predictions

The last time I wrote, I spoke about metagaming and how one does it on all levels of tournament play. Today, I will be reflecting on my Virginia Regionals experience briefly before jumping into what many are ready to start speaking about next: the XY set that will be revealed this weekend at Prereleases across North America.

Table of Contents

VIRGINIA REGIONALS

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Who would’ve Ghets guessed?

Heading into my last weekend before Virginia Regionals, I attended a pair of City Championships, placing 5th and 1st. My 5th place finish was with RayBoar and my win was with TDK. During the days between then and Regionals, I was certain I’d be playing the Plasma deck in Virginia.

However, much to my dismay, I began to hear about a large amount of Plasma hate due to the success Lugia/Snorlax/Thundurus (“The Yeti”) was beginning to have. I put the deck away and went back to the drawing board.

By Wednesday, I was playing around with a rogue deck that involved Landorus-EX, Eeveelutions, and Zoroark NXD, but it lost to Blastoise, RayBoar, and Virizion/Genesect despite huge Weakness advantages on two of them. Things started to look as if I’d be playing RayBoar or Darkrai/Garbodor until a good friend of mine convinced me to play Virizion/Genesect, telling me he’d provide me with all the cards I needed when I arrived in VA.

On the ride down from Massachusetts, I began to revisit an idea I had the night before, despite my limited knowledge of Virizion/Genesect due to its low popularity and success in the MA/NH/CT area. I observed that Virizion decks barely needed to do anything on the first turn of the game. If you had a Grass Energy and a Virizion-EX in your opening hand, you could do anything else you wanted.

I had the fortune of being in the car with one of New England’s few Virizion/Genesect players, Joseph Costa. While he hadn’t had an amazing Cities run, he was able to confirm this simple statement for me. Long story short, we got out of the car from our 10-hour ride looking for Ghetsis to put into our new, 100% “theorymoned” Virizion decks.

Two of the roommates were very receptive to the idea. If you run a few copies of Ghetsis, you sacrifice almost no consistency if you don’t cut Supporters for it. To make space, we cut our 2-2 Roserade DRX 15 line for a Jirachi-EX and the 3 Ghetsis. After spending the night tailoring the deck to a consistent list that properly incorporated the cards we wanted, I ended up with this list:

Pokémon – 9

4 Virizion-EX

3 Genesect-EX

1 Bouffalant DRX

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

1 Colress

3 Ghetsis

2 Shadow Triad

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Energy Switch

2 Potion

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Energy Search

1 Switch

1 Super Rod

1 Town Map

1 G Booster

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 14

10 Grass

4 Plasma

My rounds went as follows:

R1 vs. 60 Card Mirror (W) 1-0-0
R2 vs. Blastoise (Ross Cawthon) (T) 1-0-1
R3 vs. Empoleon/Mirrors (T) 1-0-2
R4 vs. Virizion/Genesect (W) 2-0-2
R5 vs. Darkrai/Garbodor (W) 3-0-2
R6 vs. RayBoar (L) 3-1-2
R7 vs. Virizion/Genesect (W) 4-1-2
R8 vs. Blastoise (T) 4-1-3
R9 vs. Thundurus/Lugia/Snorlax (W) 5-1-3
R10 vs. Virizion/Genesect (W) 6-1-3
R11 vs. Virizion/ Genesect (W) 7-1-3
R12 vs. Darkrai/Garbodor (T) 7-1-4
R13 vs. Gothitelle/Gardevoir (W) 8-1-4
R14 vs. RayBoar (T) 8-1-5

caught ash misty brock tied upfilb.de
I had way too many ties.

I finished at 10th place with 29 points. By the end of the event, I had played 5 of the people in Top 8, having beaten two of them, lost to one of them, and tied with the other two. I had only lost one game, and missing Top 8 was mildly disappointing. However, it was by my own hand that I didn’t arrive where I wanted in this event.

While in Philadelphia I felt that my luck was a majority of what held me back, but here it was my lack of experience with the deck that cost me.

Before the event I had played only 4 games with the deck, and none of them were with the list I used at the event. I think it is safe to say that I would have played at a much quicker pace if I hadn’t been learning its nuances on the fly.

However, I will maintain that I don’t regret any of the choices I made with the list. The deck played perfectly for me, and the inclusion of Ghetsis is probably the only reason I was able to beat the Gothitelle deck that I played in Round 13. It also made all the difference against the Darkrai/Garbodor decks I played as well. The card was perfect for handling all the Stage 2 and Sableye-oriented decks I faced.

A NEED FOR SPEED

If you are to take anything away from my Regionals experience, let it be that you should not play a deck you do not know well enough to play a reasonable pace at these large events. My lack of speed in play cost me games that I would have otherwise won. The exception I see here would be if you were to play a deck such as RayBoar with the majority of your experience being with Blastoise. It suffices to say I didn’t follow my own advice and it cost me important Championship Points.

As a side note, I’d also like to extend a shout-out to Raymond Cipoletti and Jimmy Pendarvis, two very close friends of mine, for making Top 8!

THOUGHTS FOR FLORIDA

Mandarin_Island_South_Stadium_BeachBulbapedia
Bring sunscreen.

Last weekend, we were able to experience a couple more Regionals, allowing a chance for the meta to shift. However, it didn’t change much. One thing to note was the nearly undefeated victory of Jacob Van Wagner with his interesting creation of Virizion/Genesect/Ho-Oh/Terrakion. Props to Jacob for keeping it interesting and winning at the same time! It was only a matter of time before something cool happened involving Ho-Oh, wasn’t it?

For those headed to events this weekend, be prepared and observant. It will be pretty hit-or-miss whether your event will be loaded with RayBoar to slay the Grass Pokémon, or if it will be filled to the brim with Darkrai/Garbodor decks. You might even see attempts at Dragonite decks after Dylan Bryan’s successful run with it.

The best thing you can do at this point would be to show up with a couple of decks you know how to play best. You’ll probably need to decide last minute what you are playing. As such, you should have experience with each of those decks beforehand. Doing this gives you the chance to pick the deck with the fewest bad matchups at the event.

However, not everyone is going to be at a Regional Championship this weekend. For those that won’t be, like myself, you can begin to plan for another essential part of the Pokémon season: State Championships. Players will be able to attend between 1 and 6 of these large tournaments in March and April worth between 100 and 150 Championship Points maximum.

This is the segment of the year where players are made and broken for their Worlds invites. And what better way to prepare than to start analyzing the incredible new set that will be included in these events?

THE FINEST OF XY

After looking at the translations provided by various websites, it is safe to say that this set is a step in the right direction for the game. There are several new Pokémon that could very well be seen in the top tier of decks, as well as a plethora of interesting Trainers. We even get Rainbow Energy back! In this section I will be going over the cards that will likely be seen in decks of their own, if not also with minor roles in other decks as well.

Greninja

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Throw shurikens from afar.

Water Shuriken is one of the most talked about Abilities in the set. A deck showcasing this card would most likely be a swarm-type deck that aims to get out multiple Greninja in order to do 60-120 damage, before attacking.

Furthermore, one could run “Wall Pokémon” such as Suicune PLB or Latias-EX and snipe threats with Greninja hiding on the Bench.

The biggest issue I see with the deck would be setting up and surviving an onslaught of attacks from Genesect decks, given the three to five Red Signals they would use to wreck your setup, especially with your Weakness to Grass.

Here’s a sample list of what I see most playable:

Pokémon – 16

4 Froakie XY

3 Frogadier XY

4 Greninja XY

3 Suicune PLB

2 Latias-EX

Trainers – 34

3 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Level Ball

3 Evolution Soda

3 Ultra Ball

3 Rare Candy

3 Superior Energy Retrieval

1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

10 Water

Delphox

It has the same obvious synergy with Emboar that Keldeo-EX has with Blastoise. However, the fact that Keldeo needed Black Kyurem-EX to stay powerful strikes me as a bad omen for Delphox. The massive difference is that Delphox is a setup card, as well as a non-EX. I am interested in seeing if or how players make this card work.

Here’s an attempt at Emboar/Delphox:

Pokémon – 16

3 Tepig BCR

1 Pignite LTR

3 Emboar LTR

3 Fennekin XY

1 Braixen XY

3 Delphox XY

2 Mewtwo-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

4 Skyla

1 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

1 Energy Retrieval

4 Rare Candy

2 Switch

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

11 Fire

Aegislash (Shield Forme)

Another Stage 2, this guy could see some play as well. Its attack, King’s Shield, is costly with a low damage output but powerful effect. Preventing all damage done to it during the opponent’s next turn, it keeps your opponent from doing much to it without some type of workaround. In some cases, Aegislash could just repeatedly attack for 50 while the opponent falls to pieces, unable to respond.

On the other hand, there are tons of holes in this shield. The effect does not prevent effects of attacks done to Aegislash, and Hypnotoxic Laser would still do a number to it. Furthermore, causing Aegislash to be Benched ends the effect, meaning that a combination of Escape Rope and Red Signal would lead to the demise of the Royal Sword Pokémon. G Booster also ignores it completely.

The deck is going to need some acceleration. Below is a list that abuses Victini-EX to get you set up. It tries to cover some of the shortcomings as well.

Pokémon – 16

4 Honedge XY

3 Doublade XY

3 Aegislash XY 86

1 Aegislash XY 85

3 Victini-EX

1 Darknessrai-EX

1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

1 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

3 Switch

2 Muscle Band

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Rare Candy

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Super Rod

1 Max Potion

1 Victory Piece

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 13

4 Fire

4 Rainbow

4 Metal

1 Darkness

Trevenant

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Gothitelle Jr.

There isn’t much to be said about this card that hasn’t been said about Gothitelle in the past; Item lock is extremely powerful. However, players no longer need to include Rare Candy in order to orchestrate such a powerful lock.

Its attack is somewhat interesting as well. Despite the potential to be attacking with it, I see it as more of the wall that Gothitelle was. Don’t be fooled, though. While Accelgor/Gothitelle now has its faster version, one should be wary that it will still struggle against anything with a Virizion-EX in it.

It is entirely possible that this will see play at events in the form of the metagame call Accelgor play or as part of a Palkia-EX type deck that we saw do so well in Japan. Additionally, something could be done with Exp. Share to stream attackers. Check out John’s article to see the new version of Accelgor lock!

Aromatisse

Aromatisse is probably the most exciting addition to the card pool with this set. It is a Stage 1 with the ability to move Fairy Energy at will. This is not limited to Basic Energy, meaning that Rainbow and Prism Energy may be moved as well. This will become a creative cornerstone of many decks, both new and ones that already exist.

For example, a Team Plasma deck could make great use of the card if it already contains 8 Energies that count as Fairy, assuming Rainbow takes the place of Blend. This allows for the use of Max Potion to help tank in the matchups that don’t involve 1HKOs every turn. Admittedly, those situations are becoming more and more scarce.

Here is a list for Aromatisse/techs using the Rainbow Energy approach. It uses Thundurus-EX to get extra Rainbow in Prism in play in order to circulate to the correct Pokémon to abuse your opponent’s Weakness:

Pokémon – 17

2 Swirlix XY

2 Aromatisse XY

3 Thundurus-EX PLF

1 Kyurem PLF

1 Rayquaza DRV

1 Terrakion-EX

1 Terrakion LTR

1 Tropius PLB

1 Entei-EX

1 Spiritomb LTR

1 Virizion-EX

1 Mewtwo-EX

1 Xerneas-EX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

2 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

2 Muscle Band

2 Tool Scrapper

2 Max Potion

1 Town Map

1 Super Rod

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Escape Rope

1 Computer Search

 

1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

4 Rainbow

4 Prism

4 Fairy

You can do so much with this deck, but I am still skeptical as to whether the ability to freely move Energy on the board will be as important as acceleration when every popular deck is capable of putting out 140-200 damage in a turn.

Yveltal-EX

yveltal-ex-xy-79-official
X Ball, Y Cyclone… what’s next?

As if Darkness Pokémon needed to get any more powerful, we get a Fighting-Resistant, X Ball Superior monster in the form of Yveltal. With two interesting attacks and a different Weakness than most Dark types, I expect to see this card make its way into Darkrai decks, as well as its own decks.

Its second attack, that hits for 90 base damage, moves an Energy attached to it to the Bench, allowing a conservation of Energy. In Henry’s article, we were able to see that this card made its way deep into top cut, most likely as the center of the deck. Passing Energy to your counter-attacker is an interesting strategy.

Its Evil Ball attack is so powerful that it may even appear in a lot of the Rainbow decks we will be seeing because of Aromatisse as well. It is definitely a card with a lot of potential, just keep it away from Thundurus-EX!

Xerneas (non-EX)

While I find that Xerneas-EX leaves something to be desired, this Xerneas has a first attack that makes Fairy/Aromatisse decks twice as powerful as they would be otherwise. Having 3 Energy in play at the end of turn 1 (going second) puts the deck in a situation in which Fairies can compete with decent longevity for the rest of the game.

In the future, when more Fairy Pokémon are printed, this card will get even better. In the meantime, it can still abuse any Colorless attacker and run Rainbow or Prism in addition to make a versatile deck. It is definitely worth looking into.

I think that about sums up the best Pokémon in the new set. As you can see, they all have flaws. However, it is sets like these that provide a base for amazing new cards to be supported in a fashion that makes them some of the best decks of their time. That’s also not to say that these cards won’t see play. A player can create a deck that blows the format away with the cards in this set. It’s just as likely, however, that an old deck maintains its ability to beat most of the format.

It’s clear, however, that the Pokémon are just a modicum of what makes this set so interesting. The Items, Stadiums and Supporters appear to be the talk of the set, and it is rightfully so. During John Kettler’s rundown of the set, he covered each Trainer so I will only be including input on cards that I would either like to elaborate on or disagree with John’s views of.

Red Card

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It doesn’t necessarily do anything helpful.

An Item that drops your opponent’s hand to 4 could be very powerful. This card would be broken if it existed in an environment in which every deck needed its Pokémon to evolve and draw power was limited at best. However, my view of it now is very different from the initial reaction I had when I first saw it, which was very similar to that of many others. I don’t think this card is broken, overpowered, or even a staple.

It is indeed very good. But do you have space for this card in your deck? The ideal with this deck is to be able to disrupt your opponent while using something like Juniper or Colress to have a hand almost twice the size of your opponent’s.

However, if you don’t have those cards in hand, Red Card could be useless. It could even be helping your opponent in several cases. And the odds of using Red Card to knock your opponent into a Supporterless hand are fairly small, as he or she sees 5 cards with the opening draw for his or her turn. After your opponent takes 2 Prizes, it becomes as effective or weaker than the N you may be playing on your turn.

If you play this card, be sure to include it in a fashion that doesn’t cause you to wish you had another copy of anything else. If Red Card fails to cause any serious hiccups in your opponent’s game each time you use it, it becomes the equivalent of a burnable (though occasionally not) dead card in your deck. If you use this card for the first three turns of any given game, odds are that you will have only slowed your opponent by one turn. I think it is pretty safe to say that it is a little more reliable to have a game plan that you can execute that incorporates the 1-4 spaces you otherwise would have used on Red Card.

As highlighted in Henry Prior’s article, there are still possibilities with Red Card. Cards like Exeggcutor PLF and Stoutland BCR prevent a player from using a Supporter to grow his or her hand. Given only 5 cards after a Red Card in this situation, one would be hard-pressed to respond adequately and would lose an entire turn or more.

Overall, I think this is a good card for the format because it has limited splashability in just any deck and can be used in a niche way to become a more powerful card. If more of these cards existed, the format could be even more balanced and decks would take more skill and understanding to build.

Super Potion

I think it is too soon to say whether or not this card will be useful. If I am not mistaken, it can be used on a Pokémon with no Energy, and if Potion’s numbers were relevant enough to warrant inclusion in some decks, I think it is fair to say that a card that does exactly double that might be welcome in Darkrai or Genesect decks. 60 damage can mean erasing an entire Raiden Knuckle, Emerald Slash, or a pair of Night Spears to a Benched Pokémon. Being able to do it in the middle of a slugfest might be what puts it over the top as a playable card.

Shauna

This could potentially be a competitive Supporter. I do not know why they decided to print a weaker Professor Oak’s New Theory given all of this power creep, but I still welcome the new option. It may share a split with Colress, or just replace it completely in certain decks. It doesn’t grab an incredibly workable amount of cards, but it definitely keeps you playing. At least it’s better than Bianca?

UPDATING THE OLD

While a couple of the past articles prior to Regionals disagreed about what belonged in a “Big Three” or “Big Four/Five,” I think that the results from these events so far have showed us that its pretty clear that the dominant decks are RayBoar, Blastoise, Darkrai/Garbodor, Virizion/Genesect, and the Yeti.

These decks aren’t going anywhere when State Championships roll around. More interestingly still, they each gain something from the new set to help compete with any new decks that may arise. The Items specifically put them in a position to remain dominant in a field of interesting yet very beatable Pokémon.

Blastoise, RayBoar

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Professor’s Letter is this times two.

While these decks don’t gain the most, they still gain a lot in what is literally twice the power of an Energy Search. Professor’s Letter allows Blastoise and Rayboar decks to get energy into play even faster, increasing the overall effectiveness of Skyla and the speed with which the Lightning Energy reaches the table (with a Fire or Water Energy to boot!).

By cutting an Energy and an Energy Search in the average Blastoise list, you increase the deck’s ability to circulate its Energy drastically while thinning the deck, allowing you to draw into your Superior Energy Retrievals with increased ease.

Below is a sample list for Blastoise. It contains no Tool Scrapper or Pokémon Catcher, but will set up incredibly fast the majority of the time. It is entirely feasible to find space for either of them, but if Catcher only dodges the odd Prize trade at the end of the game, it may be more profitable to keep the Electrode in the deck. Tool Scrapper is obviously always a good choice, but it is up to you to decide what to cut for it. If you choose Scrapper, I would recommend Dowsing Machine over Computer Search.

Pokémon – 16

4 Squirtle BCR

3 Blastoise BCR

3 Keldeo-EX

3 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

1 Black Kyurem BCR

1 Voltorb PLF

1 Electrode PLF

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

4 Skyla

1 Colress

 

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

1 Energy Retrieval

3 Ultra Ball

2 Level Ball

1 Heavy Ball

4 Rare Candy

2 Professor’s Letter

1 Computer Search

 

4 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

8 Water

2 Lightning

“The Yeti”

The Yeti gains the most of the five decks, arguably, with the release of Muscle Band. Allowing all of the deck’s attackers to do 20 more damage with just a Tool makes Thundurus, Deoxys, and Lugia all that much more dangerous. It’s truly amazing how one card can completely bring a deck to the next level.

Below is a sample list of a straight Lugia/Thundurus build:

Pokémon – 11

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Lugia-EX

2 Thundurus-EX PLF

1 Snorlax PLS

1 Genesect-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

3 Bicycle

2 Shadow Triad

 

3 Ultra Ball

2 Team Plasma Ball

4 Colress Machine

3 Muscle Band

3 Switch

3 Tool Scrapper

1 Max Potion

1 Computer Search

Energy – 13

4 Prism

4 Double Colorless

4 Plasma

1 Lightning

I’m going to avoid discussing any new build of Virizion/Genesect or Darkrai/Garbodor because they barely change. Virizion can make use of Muscle Band and Professor’s Letter will end up in both decks, but those become more tech-like than an instrumental piece of the new version.

NEW SCHOOL VS. OLD SCHOOL

Overall, the old decks have the edge against most of the new ones. I’ll elaborate:

Aegislash

I’m not sure it’ll prove its metal mettle.

Aegislash decks will be very vulnerable to each of the “Big Three,” but very good against Blastoise and RayBoar. G Booster goes right through King’s Shield. Darkrai can abuse Hypnotoxic Laser and Sableye to wear it down, and Plasma decks can tech Escape Rope and activate Red Signal to erase its effect. Even without Escape Rope, the Yeti could simply discard all of Aegislash’s Energy with Thunderous Noise. As such, it will probably not be a very competitive play for States.

Greninja

Virizion/Genesect can run over Greninja, but Plasma can also win the game by using Lugia and Red Signal before the frogs are in play and Darkrai can use Garbodor to shut off the walls as well as Greninja’s Ability.

Once again, however, Blastoise can fall victim to the combination of walls and Shuriken. RayBoar has a few extra ways around the lock, but problems can arise once the non-Pokémon-EX have been Knocked Out.

Trevenant

Trevenant might find its place in an interesting fashion. It is much more consistent to get into play than Gothitelle, and its attack is streamable via Exp. Share. However, we already know that the Accelgor lock is not a reliable strategy with so much Virizion around. This makes its low 110 HP exponentially more relevant. It is also Weak to Darkness. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone made it work, but I am definitely skeptical of a card like this. It also wouldn’t be fun to go down a Prize on the first turn against a Sableye with a Dark Claw.

Delphox

I personally don’t think Delphox will see much play. Setting up multiple Stage 2s was possible in Empoleon’s case, but it only needed one Energy to do damage. It’s going to be hard to keep up in a fast format with a very high-maintenance Pokémon like Delphox (given its need for Emboar in play). As a tech, I could see it being decent, but it may just be worth focusing on getting out another of your deck’s Stage 2 and run Electrode to counter the dreaded N.

Aromatisse

This card will freshen the format.

Aromatisse, however, is definitely going to bring new decks into the format one way or another. It is entirely possible for a Fairy/Colorless deck to be competitive right now. The concept of moving Rainbow Energy and Prism Energy to different types attackers is very feasible too. This card will be one that appears in a lot of the new decks you see at States in March.

However, as I mentioned earlier, it has to be executed in a fashion that accounts for the possibility for multiple 1HKOs in succession. It is truly a metagamer’s deck.

As you can see, the new set’s Pokémon might not be creating too many decks, but they will definitely add one or two. Expect to see a slight rise in Stoutland BCR or Exeggutor PLF variants due to Red Card as well.

The format is definitely going to feel fresher. There will be more to account for, more potentially competitive decks, and more possible techs you may need to worry about. There will be a lot to do in order to adequately prepare for March’s crucial events. This new set does shake up our current format, but I definitely think that the creators in Japan are just setting us up to have our world rocked in the sets to come.

CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed reading my recap and thoughts moving forward. To be clear, these observations are purely that: observations. I could be totally wrong about any of the new interesting cards we are going to see. Don’t let any of my less positive reviews of cards prevent you from trying any idea you might have. That being said, if you agree with my logic, I’m hoping that I saved you some time.

As always, I am interested in hearing feedback! Feel free to ask questions or post comments. Just contact me. I always love a good discussion about Pokémon.

Until next time!

~Jon Bristow


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