Hello again SixPrizes. I’m back after a long break from writing to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart: Flareon PLF.
I’ve been avoiding writing again until I had found something I truly wanted to talk about. Now I finally figured out what that something is and that is Flareon.
I’ve been intrigued by Flareon since its release in Plasma Freeze, but I was skeptical of its viability. However, after seeing its successes at Worlds and Fall Regionals, I was convinced it could pull off some crazy stuff.
I honestly feel that this deck is a real contender going into States and has a lot of potential to become something great. While I haven’t had a lot of outstanding results (due in part by how few tournaments I played with this deck), I’ve spent a lot of time with it and regret not playing it more.
Initially I had no idea how to play the deck at all. I took inspiration from Kyle Sucevich’s list at Fall Regionals in the beginning, but the deck eventually morphed into a giant mess. The deck was hard to build and equally as hard to play, and it was soon apparent that I had a long way to go before I was any good at the deck.
I eventually found a list I could work with and played it at a few League Challenges. It worked pretty well, but needed a few changes. Not too much success, which was due bad luck, ties, and bad matchups.
Here is my initial list as I remember it:
Pokémon – 24
4 Eevee PLF 90
Trainers – 25
Energy – 11
There is a lot going on in this deck and I’d like to talk about some of the more interesting cards.
2-2 Roserade DRX 15
Roserade has a really nifty Ability that acts as a Computer Search upon evolution called Le Parfum. Since my deck ran a lot of Pokémon, naturally, I felt Roserade fit in quite well with everything else and felt that the Ability would be clutch in any case.
While it was very useful, there were also times when it was unusable such as if one part was prized or if one part was discarded early on. It also hurt me when I was 10 or 20 damage away from a KO and it was on the field.
Overall, I feel that Roserade could still be a useful card, but is outclassed by what I had replaced it with later on (you’ll see).
Thundurus was a last minute decision. I needed something for the Empoleon matchup and Thundurus seemed to be a decent choice. Furthermore, it could act as a backup attacker to get Special Energy back onto my field. Since the deck relied heavily on Special Energy, it didn’t seem like a terrible choice.
However, Thundurus was overall underwhelming and didn’t do much in any of the games I used it with. While being able to recycle Energy is nice, it didn’t make Thundurus worth a spot in the deck.
2 Blend GRPD
The “other” Blend was used in order attack with Leafeon’s second attack when there weren’t many Energy in play as well as threaten the opponent with a T2 90 with Heat Tackle. It also allowed Roserade to attack if needed. I felt a little uneasy going in with a deck that relied on Special Energy, but there weren’t any Hammer based decks at most of the events where I played it, so I wasn’t too worried.
1-1 Gyarados LTR
Okay. This is the one where most of you are scratching your heads and wondering “What the heck is that thing used for?” Let me explain.
Back when I first was crafting the deck, I had no idea how to build it. In the end, I gave up and just started putting things in the deck at random almost. One of those random things just happened to be Gyarados LTR. In all honesty, I thought the card was interesting and that it could have a place in the deck. So I’ve kept it in as a sort of inside joke.
Thus the hype-train was born.
Every time I’ve played this deck at an event, the Gyarados always gets a laugh. People think it’s funny that it would even be in the deck, and it is true. It is a little funny! There have even been times when people at events I don’t even know come up and ask me if I’m the “Gyarados guy.” It’s pretty neat, and the card has served me well. So if you happen to play one of my friends or myself at a tournament, you’ll know by the Gyarados we’ll keep out with our stuff.
Anyway. The card is an effective late game sweeper and has won me games in the past. I don’t know how good it actually is, but I like it nonetheless.
League Challenges were just the start of something great. Next stop, Cities!
After a few tournaments with the deck, I felt that it was time for a change. The deck needed some fine tuning and Cities was approaching quickly. So I made some adjustments, tweaked a few things here and there, and took the deck to a City Championships where I finished 4th!
Finally, my deck had been working as I had hoped. I managed to finish the day at 4-2-1 after cut.
Here’s the list:
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 27
Energy – 11
Here I took a bit of a different approach to the deck. Since I knew that there were a lot of good players playing Blastoise that day, I went for a more aggressive Garbodor and Leafeon tactic. It ended up working well as I played – and beat – 3 Blastoise the last three rounds of the day. I couldn’t get any further at this event because I faced the worst possible matchup in T4: Plasma with Kyurem PLF. My run was ended, but I had a lot of fun.
A few new additions I’d like to talk about:
This card is beautiful in the deck because it can double as damage or a Supporter. Since you can discard Pokémon with Ultra Ball, getting Jirachi out is easy and usually beneficial. While it is a low HP Pokémon-EX and does take up a Bench spot, I think that it is still worth it in the deck.
Kyurem was supposed to be a soft counter to Plasma, but it ended up being a giant flop. I wanted something that could deal with Plasma without having to cut a bunch of room for Balloons, but there really wasn’t anything I could think of at the time.
Kyurem was lackluster and spent more time in the discard than on the field.
Zekrom is basically all we have for a Lightning attacker pre-XY. Outrage has the Ability to 1HKO Empoleon after a hit, but it isn’t living too much longer. It also can’t take hits too well against Plasma, leaving it as a lackluster counter.
It may seem strange that this card isn’t in the deck anymore because being able to Black Ballista for a Double Colorless is pretty good. However, I felt like I never got the Zoroark out whenever it was needed and it was situational to begin with. In the end, I found that there was a better use of space without the Zoroark.
How the deck plays
After playing with the deck for a while, there are a few things that I have learned about it.
1. This is a versatile deck.
This deck has the ability to counter, beat, and work around every deck in the format. There’s a certain amount that the deck can do at one time, but it is extremely effective at hitting everything really hard. Depending on the area you play in, this deck can switch roles and take up arms against pretty much everything in the format currently.
2. This deck has a learning curve.
When first trying this deck out, I underestimated how difficult it would be to not only play, but to build as well. There is no set way of playing the deck and it offers a lot of freedom that can make the deck even more difficult. By offering so much freedom, there are a lot of available options. It’s tempting to add cards that don’t belong and they could be unnecessary in many situations.
Playing the deck can also be tricky because discarding certain Pokémon could end up being a detriment later in the game. Some matchups require multiple pieces in order to get the win out.
3. It’s a meta-intensive deck.
Flareon is able to thrive if put into the right metagame. A meta with lots of Darkrai will make short work of Flareon and its chances fall drastically to win. On the flip side, a meta with lots of Virizion will propel Flareon to a much greater chance of victory. When playing with Flareon it is important to remember that and plan accordingly to the metagame that you are expecting.
But where does the deck go from here? How can it change and adapt from XY-on?
Let’s take a look.
Adapting to XY
The biggest players of XY are definitely Xerneas and Yveltal-EX. These are most likely going to be major players going into the next format and we will most likely see a lot of them. Yveltal in particular will see a lot of play when paired with Darkrai, but Xerneas and its Fairy friends will be there as well.
So, how can Flareon adapt?
Here are a few things that XY bring to the table for Flareon:
Raichu acts the exact same way as Cinccino BLW. ‘Circle Circuit’ functions like ‘Do the Wave’ did, but has a huge advantage due to Raichu’s Lightning-type. Why does this matter? Well if you look at the biggest Lightning-weak threats you’ll see why. Yveltal-EX, Empoleon, Lugia-EX, and Tornadus-EX are all big threats to Flareon and all are weak to Lightning. They are all fairly popular and can be dealt with easily by Raichu.
Being an Lightning-type Evolution that runs off of Double Colorless is what Flareon has been looking for all along. Raichu is one of my favorite cards from the set and I’m excited to be using it.
Dugtrio is another Pokémon that I think will make an excellent addition to Flareon as a Darkrai/Thundurus/Snorlax Counter. Dugtrio is very similar to Donphan Prime from the HGSS era, but it has just a bit less going for it in terms of health and defensive power. However, this does not stop Dugtrio from having a place in Flareon. Being able to 1HKO Fighting-weak EXs (with a Silver Bangle) is nothing to sneeze at, and Flareon may have gotten just what it needed to help against Darkrai in Dugtrio.
Muscle Band is a fantastic Item all by itself. An additional 20 damage is extremely effective as we have seen with Dark Claw, but it is now available to everyone. This is a great addition to a lot of decks, and Flareon is no exception. There have been so many times when I have been forced to Vengeance for 110 damage against a 130 HP Pokémon when I needed to Knock it Out.
Silver Bangle helped Flareon because it made it easier for it to 1HKO EXs by needing less Pokémon in the discard pile. Muscle Band brings that same concept to non-EXs and gives Flareon and friends the ability to succeed in big KOs.
Rainbow is one of my favorite Special Energies and I’m happy to see that it is back. I think that Rainbow it really helpful because it can be anything and everything. The damage counter hurts, but the naturally low HP of the Pokémon in the deck make it bearable. It adds even more versatility to the deck and could be a good addition.
At first glance, these are the most helpful additions Flareon is receiving from XY. They are very useful tools and will help the deck function better and more effectively in the coming months.
Before I continue, I want to address one card from XY that some of you may have thought I missed. That is Evosoda.
To put it plainly, Evosoda is a bad card. It doesn’t get around Evolution rules, it is inferior to most other search cards, and it is very specific about what you can search out. While it does seem like it would be a good inclusion to the deck since there are many Stage 1s in the deck, there are so many different Pokémon that it doesn’t help the cause. Furthermore, it cannot search out Basics like Ultra Ball and other search cards can.
Now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to discuss my projected matchups for Flareon going into the XY format against each of the top archetypes of today and predicted archetypes going into the coming format.
Before I continue, please keep in mind that most of these matchups come from prior experience and speculation on new archetypes. Some testing has been done, but since the cards are not fully released yet, proper/extensive testing has not been done.
Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX – 65/35
I think that this is a relatively good matchup for Flareon with a combination of Raichu and Dugtrio. I expect that Darkrai will become a 1-2-of instead of a 3-4-of with a higher count of Yveltal. If that is the case, it makes the matchup far easier and more favorable. A heavier Darkrai line, however, could cause problems.
Another good matchup, especially if they get a slow start. The Fairy cards as of now do not hit very hard very quickly and are meant to endure hits. Fortunately, Flareon is a deck of 1HKOs, making that strategy less effective.
While Flareon is currently lacking a Metal counter to Xerneas-EX, Cobalion LTR can be splashed into the deck with ease and make the matchup easier. A more toolbox approach could cause problems, which is something to keep in mind.
Darkrai-EX/Garbodor LTR – 40/60
This is an awkward matchup. While having no Abilities isn’t too much of an issue, Darkrai is a serious threat to the deck and Hypnotoxic Laser will mess up your Active on coin flips. It also makes your Bench susceptible to damage via Night Spear when it could normally be prevented with Mr. Mime. Additionally, Enhanced Hammers will have a field day and can really mess you up.
This was already a fairly good matchup for Flareon assuming you play a healthy amount of Leafeon and Garbodor. There are ways to lose if you cannot get set up, but it is a fairly straightforward matchup.
This is another awkward matchup for Flareon as you have no reliable way to KO Rayquaza and Rayquaza-EX. Reshiram is relatively easier if you play a Water-type in the deck, but still 1HKOs you easily. If you can keep the lock up with Garbodor then you may have a chance, especially in the late game. Otherwise, it’ll be a rough matchup.
Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX – 90/10
This should be a very easy matchup for you, especially of you are able to go first. There isn’t much that they can do if you get a quick Flareon out. Your deck can easily fall apart if you get a bad N after a few KOs on your side, so it is important to take precautions.
Raichu makes your time against this deck. You only need three Bench Pokémon and a Muscle Band to 1HKO an Empoleon. However, it is easy to 1HKO your Raichu back since it only has 90 HP. If you are careful with your Bench and manage your Raichu, the matchup could go your way.
If you see a lot of this in your area, Espeon DEX is an effective tech card that all but ensures victory. Audino BCR is also a viable option to eliminate status. Zoroark BLW is also very good here as you can copy Trevenant’s attack for a 1HKO and some snipe damage. Overall, shouldn’t be hard if it is teched for and is very winnable.
This is an interesting matchup. If you have something like Espeon DEX, then you could be able to stop the Item lock for a bit. Even if they have a Garbodor in play, Item lock doesn’t hurt you too much as long as you conserve Junipers to discard as many Pokémon as possible. With your low HP and a lack of a relevant Dragon to attack with, the matchup can be hard. However, since Dragonite is a Stage 2 and is fairly slow, it is completely possible to win and may even be in your favor if you can get enough Pokémon in the discard early.
Before I conclude, I would like to present a skeleton list of what I would expect to be played in Flareon in the coming format. Feel free to build off of it yourself.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 19
Energy – 8-9
3-4 Basic/Special Energy
1 Basic Energy
Free Space – 19-20
The Energy may seem weird, but there are multiple paths you can take. Playing Special or basic Energy is up to preference and build. If your deck plays a lot of Colorless or single type attackers, the basic Energy would be better. If your build has a lot of different colored attackers, then special energy may be more appropriate.
I feel like the cards in the skeleton are the bare minimums of everything that should be played. Things can be added and taken away as time progresses.
Flareon is definitely one of my personal favorite decks of the current format. Its versatility, simplicity and power are definitely some things to be admired. The fact that you can do so much within a 60-card limit is pretty astounding. It has its faults and weak points like any deck, but they are able to be worked around with relative ease.
I think that this deck is a major contender in the coming format and is a deck to keep in mind when you are testing for States and beyond.
Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed.