Everybody has one thing on their mind, and that’s State Championships starting in March. Believe me when I say XY is going to have a major impact on the format and I’d expect some dramatic shifts and interesting decks. With just over a month away till States, this is really the time to start narrowing down deck choices and making sure you have all the cards you need. Early preparation is key to success and it helps avoid last minute headaches.
For today’s article, I only want to focus on things that are going to be essential to help you find success at States. The first deck I’m going to look at is Dragonite, which has received a lot of attention as of late, but so far has seen only a small amount of detailed discussion. The other three decks I’m going to focus on in this article are what I feel to be the other top decks of Tier 1. You might be familiar with some of the names, but trust me, you won’t be familiar with the lists.
I’m going to break each deck down, discuss my current list, and then discuss my strategy for each matchup. If you’re like me you’re probably not sure what you’re playing at States yet, but hopefully after you read this article you’ll have a strong grasp on what the format is going to look like and the top decks you should consider.
Table of Contents
- What We’ve Learned From Regionals
- The Highlights of XY
- Clarifying Consistency
- A Discussion on Dragonite
- The Top Decks for States
What We’ve Learned From Regionals
1. Pokémon Catcher is still really good.
After the errata many players started dropping Catcher from their decks. Even some Darkrai decks stopped playing the card. Once Regionals started though, it was a near staple in Darkrai decks, but more interestingly, we started seeing it in Blastoise as well.
I expect this trend to continue into States. While Pokémon Catcher won’t see play in every deck, I do expect it to be a near staple in Darkrai since it can be abused with Sableye. I also expect it to be a common choice in both Blastoise and Emboar decks as they have 1HKO potential. Not only does it give those decks more options, but it also allows them to deal with big threats before the opponent brings them Active.
2. Stage 1 consistency Pokémon are making a comeback.
The first week, in Virginia, we saw Jimmy Pendarvis pilot a Virizion/Genesect deck to Top 8, opting to play a 2-2 Roserade to search out key tech cards like G Booster. Week 1 we also saw Ray Cipoletti and Santiago Rodriguez both make T8 with a 1-1 Electrode in their RayBoars. This trend continued into Week 2 as all the Blastoise and RayBoar players in T8 at Missouri also played 1-1 Electrode.
For States I’d expect most RayBoar players to start playing Delphox, while the Blastoise players will stick with the Electrode option.
One of the biggest changes (in my mind) is that in both Blastoise and Rayquaza/Emboar players switched from playing Computer Search to Dowsing Machine. We saw this with Ray Cipoletti (T8 Virginia with a near perfect RayBoar list for the format in my opinion) and Aaron Tarbell who won Missouri Regionals.
It’s not that Computer Search is bad; rather decks need to play extra copies of cards they simply can’t find the room for. You need to have 3 Tool Scrappers to beat Garbodor, but it’s hard to find room for more than two since the card is dead in every other matchup. It can also function as a 2nd or 3rd Pokémon Catcher, 2nd Escape Rope, 2nd Max Potion, 2nd Super Rod, 5th Rare Candy, an extra copy of Tropical Beach for Stadium wars, etc.
4. Mr. Mime is seeing a drop in play.
Right now we really have 4 good attackers that hit the Bench: Darkrai-EX, Landorus-EX, Kyurem PLF, and Genesect-EX. The first two are normally paired with Garbodor, which makes Mr. Mime useless. Kyurem has seen a pretty big drop in play and the 20 damage done by Genesect is normally not enough to change 2HKOs into 1HKOs. With deck space being tight, Mr. Mime was a logical card to drop.
The Highlights of XY
I hate long set reviews since most of the time playable cards are pretty obvious. However, I’d like to briefly mention a few new cards I think are relevant.
Some of these cards are deck specific, so I wouldn’t suggest just going out and buying a playset of each. However, they will some dramatic changes in different archetypes. I would expect Rayquaza/Emboar, Plasma, Accelgor, and Darkrai variants to all gain a lot of popularity due to this set.
What I preordered from the set were all the “obviously good” cards, but I decided to wait on Yveltal-EX as well as I figured the price would drop to somewhere around $15. I also preordered Hard Charm and Team Flare Grunt just to have. I preordered a little bit more than I normally do, but it was because the Troll and Toad preorder prices were dirt-cheap, with most of the commons at $0.25 and uncommons at $0.50.
With the release of XY, I’ve had to go back to the drawing board with some of my decks and start from scratch on a few new ideas I’m throwing around. Instead of trying to tackle deck building as a whole (that is an entire article and then some by itself), I’d like to look at one aspect I feel players often misunderstand.
A lot of the time players associate “consistency” with how many Supporters they run, when in reality consistency is more than that. The way I see consistency is this: “How often does your deck achieve its goal?” The goal of a Blastoise deck, for example, is to set up Blastoise as quickly as possible and then score big 1HKOs throughout the game.
Most players would probably consider a Blastoise deck that ran 14 Supporters and 3 Tropical Beach consistent. However, let’s say the deck only ran 1 Rare Candy or 2 Ultra Ball. All of a sudden the deck just doesn’t look as consistent anymore because despite having many options to draw more cards, it has very few options to achieve its overall goal of getting Blastoise and in turn Energy into play. This is of course an extreme example, but all the time I see players run high Supporter counts, then skimp in other areas of their deck.
These are not hard and fast rules, but here are some general guidelines I follow and they are good to keep in mind when building decks:
1. Play 14-15 “consistency cards.”
I consider “consistency cards” any that get me a new hand or allow me to draw cards. For example, I consider Computer Search a consistency card since it can search out a Supporter and the same goes for Random Receiver. I don’t think I’ve dipped below 14 in the last 2 years.
For decks that play Tropical Beach I usually like to go a bit higher, in the 16-17 range. Even though Tropical Beach is a consistency card, it’s normally at its strongest in the first few turns of the game. As the game progresses you won’t want to end your turn to draw more cards, so a decent number of Supporters still needs to be played alongside of it.
As for decks that play Bicycle, I normally play higher Supporter counts there too. Even though Bike is a “consistency card,” it can be very situational. The same could also be said about Dowsing Machine.
I don’t consider Pokémon search cards as consistency cards very often. The one small exception is if I play Jirachi-EX, but even then I usually don’t skimp on Supporters.
The number of these is going to change dramatically based on what type of deck you’re playing. Normally for all-Basic decks (like Darkrai and Plasma) you will see 3 or 4 Balls as the most common number. Right now I run 3 Ultra Ball in Darkrai and 3 Ultra Ball, 1 Team Plasma Ball in Plasma.
For any Stage 2 deck I personally like to run 6 Balls, but will sometimes cut down to 5 if room is tight. Also I will almost always run 4 Ultra Ball for a Stage 2 deck; although it forces a tighter playstyle, I’d rather have the greater utility (and consistency in my mind) over getting a mismatched Ball (like opening Heavy Ball when I desperately need to search out a Squirtle).
3. Build around Pokémon consistency cards (if you play them).
Pokémon that introduce consistency are getting to be more common now than they have been the last few years. Players are starting to turn to Jirachi-EX, Electrode PLF, and now Delphox XY to help with consistency. I want to say that Pokémon consistency doesn’t replace Supporters, so don’t play extremely low Supporter counts just because you play Pokémon consistency.
Some players who don’t have access to Tropical Beach completely replace it in setup decks with cards like Electrode. My advice to these players is you can’t simply drop 4 Tropical Beach in favor of a 2-2 Electrode and call it a day. You need to build the rest of your deck around that Electrode line. Maxing out on Ultra Ball and playing additional copies of Level Ball is a great way to help bring some of that consistency back even if you don’t have Tropical Beach.
A Discussion on Dragonite
I’m going to take a look at two different variations of Dragonite, the first being Dylan Bryan’s Virginia Regionals T4 list and the second being Ryan Sabelhaus’ 1st place Florida decklist. Their lists actually vary quite a bit, but the overall concept of the game remains the same: lock the opponent out of Item cards by using Dragonite’s Deafen attack. In turn, lock them out of Abilities as well by using Garbodor’s ‘Garbotoxin.’ Since your opponent can’t play Item cards they’ll never be able to play Tool Scrapper to break the Ability lock.
The decks have more tricks than that, but this is where the lists start going in different directions.
Dylan’s T4 List
I’m going to start with Dylan’s T4 Virginia Regionals “original” Dragonite; however I’m just going to use Kyle Sucevich’s list for discussion purposes here. I can only pull out 2 cards that I know were different in Dylan’s counts, but I’m assuming there might be more. However, this is extremely close and the easiest to analyze.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 32
Energy – 10
The Strategy: Dylan’s list really has an answer to just about every deck in the format. I’ve seen some confusion coming from players who don’t understand why you would play both Reuniclus and Garbodor in the same deck. The idea isn’t to get both of them in play; instead you choose which one you need based on the matchup.
If you’re playing against something that can 1HKO Dragonite (like Blastoise or Emboar) then you shut off their Abilities with Garbodor. If you’re playing against something that can’t 1HKO Dragonite (like Darkrai) then you switch your strategy to getting Reuniclus into play and swapping damage off of Dragonite.
The Good: I really like how the deck seems to have answer to just about every deck in the format. No matter what you’re sitting across the table from it’s a winnable matchup.
The Bad: The list can be extremely clunky and even favorable matchups can be lost with a poor opening hand. I tested this a lot and the consistency factor just wasn’t there for me. I also hate how the deck has no Energy acceleration.
Ryan’s 1st Place List
Once again I’m going to go with a list I got from The Top Cut.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
The Strategy: Ryan’s list took the same concept as Dylan’s, but went in a different direction with the deck. Ryan realized the deck’s strength comes from locking Garbodor in play, so Ryan really streamlined the deck and focused on being prepared for key matchups like Blastoise, Emboar, and Virizion/Genesect.
He took a pretty big gamble here and played a far less well-rounded list than Dylan. Ryan should lose to any sort of Darkrai list, but the tradeoff gave him a much faster and much more consistent list that offered Energy acceleration.
The Good: I really like how Ryan’s deck feels more consistent than Dylan’s does. I also like that the deck has much stronger matchups against Emboar, Blastoise, and Virizion/Genesect, since I consider them to be three of the top decks in the format. I also like how the deck offers some Energy acceleration, but only needs to devote three spots to it.
With Dylan’s list I always felt like I was trying to cram 65 cards into a 60 card deck, while with Ryan’s I feel like I have a 60 card deck with space to work with.
The Bad: I don’t like a deck that auto-losses to Darkrai-EX; it just seems like too risky of a gamble to make right now. I also don’t like how the deck seems to be at such a disadvantage to Special Conditions. Ryan actually had to sweat out two Hypnotoxic Laser flips decide the finals.
My Dragonite List
I’ve taken some time and tested both lists quite a bit and it came down to consistency and Energy acceleration for me. I basically took Ryan’s list and made some of my own changes to the deck to fit my playstyle and fix problems I had with the deck. This isn’t something I’d just randomly decide to play at States; instead, I’d have to feel like for the meta it was the right call.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
I agreed with a majority of Ryan’s choices, but still had to make some changes.
3-1-3 Dragonite: I really didn’t see the point in the 4th Dratini and instead opted to run a second copy of Super Rod. I also opted to play the Dragonair with 1 Retreat Cost. It is far more likely that you will be retreating Dragonair than wanting to waste a DCE to hit for 20.
3 Juniper, 1 Colress: I split the Juniper/Colress line since decks nowadays normally play with a big Bench and I run a Jirachi-EX. In the mid and late game it’s not uncommon to Colress for 8 to 10 cards.
3 Tropical Beach, 2 Level Ball: Ryan went with a very thick Ball lineup for consistency while he played a thinner Tropical Beach line. I’m sure his line of thinking was he would most likely Beach if he went first, and use Victini-EX if he went second. When playing the deck I found that I really liked having the third Stadium card to bump opposing Virbanks and to a lesser degree Frozen Cities. A lot of the time I also don’t want to bench Jirachi-EX or waste its Ability if I don’t have to early. The increased chance of drawing into Tropical Beach was nice.
4 Ultra Ball, 0 Heavy Ball: I would rather have the better utility of Ultra Ball with a discard than the limited usefulness of Heavy Ball. Sure, I would love to have Heavy Ball in my deck when I’m playing Skyla, trying to grab a search card for Garbodor or Dragonite, but this is a very limited situation. I’m far more worried about my opening hand, or having Ultra Ball in my hand when I desperately need a Jirachi-EX, Dratini, etc., for my current situation.
2 Super Rod: Cycling through Energy, Dragonite, and Mewtwo-EX can be a huge deciding factor in a game. I don’t want to have to worry about discarding one too early in the game or finding out that it is prized. Playing the second copy of Super Rod also supports some of my other choices in the deck such as playing the 4th Ultra Ball and not playing a 4th Dratini.
1 Escape Rope: The deck needs some sort of switching card so you’re not at the mercy of Special Conditions. I went with Escape Rope because with Deafen stopping your opponent from playing their own Escape Rope, Switch, or Float Stone their decision on what to bring up can get a lot harder. I also thought it would lead to some cheap Prizes against Virizion/Genesect.
What Almost Made My List
1 Virizion-EX and Grass or Blend GRPD Energy: Special Conditions are extremely prevalent in our current format and I don’t like the idea of just being at their mercy. Finding the one spot for the Virizion-EX sounds is simple enough, but the harder part is figuring out the Energy lineup. What would the Grass/Fire split be? Should you play Blend? My thoughts would be to use 4 R Energy and 2 G Energy or 3 R Energy, 2 G Energy, and 1 Blend Energy.
Ho-Oh-EX with 6 Different Energy: This was an idea I had when I was tweaking Dylan’s list trying to improve the Virizion/Genesect matchup. I was also desperately trying to find a deck that I could play Y Energy in. This is mainly an idea I’ve tossed aside though, as Victini-EX does what Ho-Oh-EX does, but is faster and offers better Energy acceleration.
Muscle Band: I’m actually pretty back and forth on Muscle Band right now. The card would be extremely nice for mirror as well as pesky 70 HP and 80 HP Pokémon. However, the only two reasons I can come up with for the card would be the mirror match (in which you have to get it down before they start to Deafen) and to 1HKO Sableye (but we’re already scooping the Darkrai matchup anyway).
I really don’t want to add an 8th Pokémon Tool and the deck can’t play less than 2 Silver Mirror and 2 Silver Bangle. This means that the only spot that you could really cut would be a Float Stone. This is probably the number one choice in the deck I’m not sure of right now.
The Top Decks For States
I know everybody is throwing around a lot of new creative decks revolving around Pokémon from the XY set. I’m also very excited about a lot of the new cards, like Greninja. The problem is Pokémon got themselves in a real jam by slowly upping the power creep over the last few years and it’s pretty obvious that they are slowly trying to climb out of it.
So while many of the new cards have a lot of possibilities in the future, they just simply can’t keep up with out with our current overpowered meta decks. Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely some hidden gems in the set, but many of them go toward strengthening already existing archetypes rather than creating their own.
My top three decks for States are decks that you’re already probably familiar with. However, don’t expect to simply walk into States with your Cities list and do well. XY brought a lot to the table for these decks and it’s important to be able to go back to the drawing board and come up with good solid lists. In some cases this involves taking the decks in new directions and switching focuses.
Anybody who knows me knows that I love being creative and thinking outside the box, which is something I try to incorporate in all of my lists. Little techs can really make decks and give players a decisive edge. At the end of the day though, it’s not how rogue or creative my deck is, what matters is can it get the “W” at the table.
One last thing I want you to keep in mind is that while I’m going to discuss different techs for different matchups, I’m only going to discuss techs that could reasonably be played in that deck. Silver Mirror and Enhanced Hammer make great counters to Yeti, but are not worth the space in Rayquaza/Emboar, for example.
The deck Rayquaza/Emboar is known to most people as RayBoar, but has never really got very much attention up until recently. The reason for this was the deck was really just an inferior version of Blastoise. The decks had all the same tricks, but Blastoise outshined RayBoar at every turn.
There were numerous little things like Black Kyurem-EX having 10 more Hit Points than Rayquaza-EX, Squirtle’s Bench protection Ability, Blastoise having a strong, non-discarding attack in the forum of Keldeo-EX, the ability to play 2-3 Keldeo-EXs to get out of Special Conditions… I could go on, but in my opinion those were four of Blastoise’s biggest advantages giving it an edge against other popular decks in the field.
Once Winter Regionals hit we saw RayBoar gain a lot more steam. This wasn’t due to the fact that the deck had gotten better, rather the meta shifted to make it more favorable. With only 50 minutes +3 turns for games, players would opt to play much faster decks. The most obvious choice in many people’s minds was Thundurus/Lugia/Snorlax or Virizion/Genesect.
Now, “the Yeti” matchup was about the same for both decks, however RayBoar could easily tech in two Reshirams and have an insanely good Virizion/Genesect matchup (a match that Blastoise could have trouble with). This is why at Virginia Regionals we saw six copies of the deck make Top 32, and three of them finished in the Top 8. I would consider it a pretty strong showing for a deck that was never really hyped before this tournament.
I really expect the momentum of this deck to keep getting stronger heading into States. With the release of XY, I think that RayBoar now outshines Blastoise for one very simple reason…Delphox!
There are two main reasons why Delphox is going to bring RayBoar to the forefront of Tier 1. The first is the built-in draw power allowing you to draw your hand up to 6 cards. The deck runs 9 discarding cards (4 Ultra Ball, 4 SER, and 1 ACE SPEC), so it won’t be hard to thin out the dead weight. It makes the deck less reliant on living from Supporter to Supporter and it makes it nearly impossible for an opponent to N you into a dead hand, while making it much easier to use N yourself.
The second thing is that it gives the deck a strong non-EX attacker with an unlimited damage cap. This is essential in the strategy of making your opponent take that “7th” Prize. It also helps to give you an edge against Blastoise, since whomever throws up the first Pokémon-EX usually loses.
Before I discuss the deck any more, let me share my list with you that I’m currently testing for States.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
As you can tell, the deck is extremely tight on space and I’ve had to make a lot of cuts that I know some players won’t agree with. I’ll do my best to explain them below, but this is the list I’ve tested with the most success.
2-0-2 Delphox: The idea is to rush Delphox as quickly as possible, so I went with a 2-0-2 line instead of a 1-0-1.
With putting a larger emphasis on Delphox and its built-in draw Ability, I’m allowed to get away with things that seemed unimaginable before like only running 10 Energy and fewer straight draw cards. The one big card I feel the deck is missing right now is Pokémon Catcher. I’m trying to find room for 1 or 2 copies, but I haven’t made my final decision on this.
3-0-3 Emboar: The cut of the 4th copy of Tepig was one of my last cuts to the deck. I feel a little bit better about it knowing that some Virizion/Genesect decks are opting to not play Virbank/Laser. (This trend seems to have decreased though heading to week 3-of Regionals.) My ideal line for Emboar would be 4-1-3, but space is extremely tight.
0 Mr. Mime: Once again I feel the format has shifted so that the only really played Bench-hitting deck is Darkrai/Garbodor. This makes Mr. Mime near pointless, so I’ve decided to drop the card in favor of opening up another free space.
4 Tropical Beach: This is once again a choice I made to focus on rushing Delphox. Hitting T1 Tropical Beach is huge especially if you don’t have to play your Supporter for the turn to get it. Since Delphox has built-in draw power it become less important to have a draw Supporter late in the game. Therefore I simply cut a Juniper for the 4th Beach.
2 Juniper/1 Colress: You can basically play these 3 spots however you want for straight draw power. The deck has a lot of resources it doesn’t want to discard, like SER and Rare Candy, and some resources it simply can’t discard in certain matchups, like Tool Scrapper.
2 Tool Scrapper: I really think 2 Tool Scrapper is going to be a near staple when it comes to States. Sure, it’s a dead card in some matchups, but I don’t think you can “take a loss” to Garbodor anymore. At least in matchups like mirror they’ll most likely have the same two dead Tool Scrappers that you do, so you’re really not at a disadvantage.
1 Switch, 0 Keldeo-EX: I like at least 2 Switching cards in the list and I’ve opted to play 1 Escape Rope which means the second spot is going to either a 2nd Escape Rope, Switch, Float Stone, or Keldeo-EX.
During Cities my preference would have been to play 1 Keldeo-EX, but right now I feel like that is just too dangerous with Garbodor and Virizion/Genesect all over the place. I went with the most common split of 1 Escape Rope and 1 Switch. However, I do feel there is room for personal preference here.
Virizion/Genesect – Highly Favorable
This matchup is heavily in your favor, but it’s not an auto-win by any means. The big things to keep in mind are to focus on getting 2 Tepigs in play ASAP as Virizion/Genesect’s only real chance to win is to completely remove Emboar from the field. Even when you get Emboar in play it’s important to always have at least a Tepig in play incase they KO your Emboar with a Red Signal/G Booster.
Outside of those two things the game most plays out like any other matchup. If you’re able to get ahead of them in Energy attachments it should be a pretty easy game.
Darkrai/Garbodor – Even
I think that Delphox goes a really long ways to making this matchup more even. One of the biggest problems I’ve had playing against Darkrai/Garbodor in the past is that your need to set up a turn where you not only have the Tool Scrapper, but a way to get a bunch of Energy into play as well. It was much harder to pair those two things together than it sounds. What Delphox allows you to do is really “go off” where you can play everything in your hand, then use Delphox for a new hand, and then play your Supporter. It’s much easier to get that large amount of Energy in play that turn.
It’s also worth noting that one of the few advantages that I believe RayBoar has over Blastoise in this matchup is that Rayquaza-EX has only 1 Retreat Cost. This makes it a lot easier to retreat to a fresh one if you’re able to get multiple Rayquaza-EXs powered up in one turn.
Techs: 3rd Tool Scrapper
Blastoise – Even to Slightly Unfavorable
I consider the decks pretty evenly matched with very few difference between the two. You have better draw support with Delphox whereas they have Keldeo-EX for early pressure, you have a better non-EX attacker, etc., etc.. Most of the differences are pretty marginal; the only thing I could see being a big deciding factor is if the Blastoise play plays Pokémon Catcher and how lucky they are with heads.
Yeti – Even
The Yeti matchup comes down to the first few turns of the game. If they get off to an incredibly quick start then you’re going to be in serious trouble. However, if you get ahead of them in Energy attachments, then you can just roll them. The big deciding factor for me is that N really doesn’t affect you, while a late game N for them can be detrimental.
This really is such an even matchup it could go either way; personally though I’d rather be sitting on the side of the table that isn’t just “hoping” to draw well off of a late game N.
Next up is probably one of my favorite decks from City Championships. Had I been able to play in more Cities, Darkrai/Garbodor would almost certainly have been the deck I would have played.
Lets start of with my list with updates from XY:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 38
Energy – 10
Overall there really isn’t a whole lot to explain about the deck. The deck has been covered in depth over the last few months and it receives only small (however important) changes with XY. If you look at the Regionals results, decks revolving around Abilities dominated the top cuts and nothing with XY really looks to change that.
The deck’s biggest problem comes from its inability to handle 50-minute rounds very well. You will essentially have to 2-0 your opponent as the deck isn’t slow enough to not finish two games and it isn’t fast enough to finish three games. My list varies a little bit from the standard and I’ll try to convince you why some of my choices are better.
1 Yveltal-EX: This card is receiving a lot of hype lately and it makes a great edition to the deck. What this card brings to the table is an unlimited damage cap, which is something Darkrai has never seen before. A 6-Energy Yveltal-EX can 1HKO a Darkrai-EX that’s fully powered.
Between Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Night Spear Damage there are some interesting numbers you can get to. The 1HKO ability is necessary for Dragonite and it’s nice to put some nice early pressure on the opponent, especially in matchups like Trevenant where that early pressure is key if you want to win.
0 Yveltal XY: I started off hating this card (why would I want to waste an attack on something I can do with an Item for free?), but now I’m starting to like it. The beefy 130 HP means it might actually take a hit or two and it has a 1 Energy attack that hits for a decent 30 damage. Combining the attack with Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser you can either score KOs on low HP Pokémon or devote little resources on a non-Pokémon-EX to set up a KO on an opposing Pokémon-EX.
Playing smart with Yveltal can give you quite a few options, but the problem is space. I really don’t think the deck can go above 12 Pokémon, which means a cut has to be made. The only 3 spots I see would be a Sableye, an Absol, or a Darkrai-EX.
1 Skyla: The traditional way to go with the deck right now is to run 0 Skyla and just play a lot of straight draw cards. I never like this approach as the deck favors a lot of “1-ofs” like Enhanced Hammer, Switch, and Max Potion that are important to get right when you need them. Through Cities I had 2 Skyla in my list, but ultimately dropped it down to 1.
Since I play 8 new hand cards and just 1 Skyla, the odds are highly in my favor of hitting 1 of the 8 new hand cards when I play Random Receiver. Even if I am unlucky to hit Skyla I can always go and search out Bicycle for straight draw. Skyla really shines in the mid and late game where it’s more important to search out key cards than getting a new hand.
I’d also like to note that I can Junk Hunt Dowsing Machine and then on the following turn use it to get Skyla from my discard and then the Trainer I want from the deck. If you still disagree with me and you don’t feel like Skyla should be in the deck, then simply drop it for the 4th Random Receiver.
2 Muscle Band: Both Muscle Band and Dark Claw will do the same thing for the deck (with the exception of a random Trubbish attack) with one small exception: if you play Muscle Band your opponent will probably assume that you don’t have any non-Darkness attackers, while if you play Dark Claw then your opponent will know that you don’t play any non-Darkness attackers. This is really small difference that will likely not have any impact on your games, but it is something that top players take notes of.
Escape Rope is good in situations where your opponent is trying to sack a Prize while protecting bigger threats on the Bench. A good example of this would be if your opponent has Sableye Active and a Darkrai-EX on the Bench. Normally you would much rather get a hit in on the Darkrai-EX than take the Prize from the Sableye. The problem is this entire argument is invalid if your opponent has another Prize to sack on the Bench such as a second Sableye (which is commonly the case).
Escape Rope always feels like a win the battle (take a Prize card), but lose the war (not dealing with the real threats) type of card. The best argument I can make for Escape Rope is the card can be used both offensively and defensively.
Switch on the other hand gets your Pokémon out of the Active Spot while leaving your opponent’s in place. Normally in a fast pace format like this you want to deal with the biggest threats first and normally the biggest threats are in the Active Spot. A common situation I’d find myself in is my opponent would play a Hypnotoxic Laser followed by an attack. I’d need to get out of the Poison, but at the same time I need to get a hit in on their big attacker.
Virizion/Genesect – Even
I’m sure some players are going to disagree with me, but over all I consider this matchup pretty even. Whether or not they play Hypnotoxic Laser can really swing the matchup either way.
I usually play the matchup the same way that I do Blastoise or Emboar and focus on getting Garbodor into play quickly. I like to put a lot of early pressure on with Sableye before transitioning into Darkrai or Absol. You never want to just run in too early with Darkrai as a G Booster can set you back. I like to really play the matchup with a strong emphasis on control and really look to set up those big double KOs.
Silver Mirror on Absol or even a Sableye is one of those outside chance things where it can be very hard for the opponent to deal with. They either have to Scrapper, retreat to Virizion-EX, or waste the Energy on a G Booster.
Techs: Tool Scrapper
Blastoise/RayBoar – Even to Highly Favorable
This matchup completely comes down to how many copies of Tool Scrappers they play. The way to approach the matchup is to rush Garbodor and then use Sableye and Hypnotoxic Laser to control the game. The first attacker is normally Absol in the hopes the opponent has to use their first Tool Scrapper for a non-EX Prize. As always N will play a role as does the Stadium war. Keeping Tropical Beach out of plays becomes very important.
Yeti – Slightly Favorable
This matchup can vary a lot depending on how you tech your deck and how many Special Energy cards they run. Personally I find the matchup slightly favorable as long as you don’t prize Enhanced Hammer or Silver Mirror.
I don’t really have a set strategy against the deck, but normally I like to set up Garbodor quickly to shut of Lugia-EX’s Overflow Ability and then start spreading damage with Darkrai-EX. Yveltal-EX is a huge asset in this matchup as it can push Lugia-EX for decent damage and normally 1HKOs Snorlax.
This deck is no secret to the meta and most of you probably know the deck as “Yeti” or “Snorbax.” Personally I’m not a fan of people naming decks non-descriptive names, especially if they didn’t invent the deck, but even I find myself referring to the deck as Yeti.
The deck has two major weakness, the first being its heavy dependence on Special Energy. The popularity of Enhanced Hammer seems to vary, but it sees almost no play outside of Darkrai variants. As for Darkrai variants, it seems to be a “1-of” in most builds and I don’t expect this to change as many Darkrai players are trying to fit in Yveltal XY and Yveltal-EX.
On top of this most Darkrai variants seem to prefer high Random Receiver counts, Dowsing Machine as their ACE SPEC, and zero Skyla. This means they have to manually draw into the card and then manually draw into it again if they get N’d after a Junk Hunt. Unless your opponent gets extremely lucky and hits a T1/T2 Enhanced Hammer, the card is usually more of an annoyance than an actual game ender.
The second weakness of the deck is Silver Mirror, which saw a decent amount of play at Regionals. Unlike Enhanced Hammer, even a single copy of Silver Mirror can completely lock you out of the game. Silver Mirror is such a huge problem for the deck that you simply can’t ignore it.
I could go into a lot of details about the deck’s strengths, but the main points are it’s fast, consistent, has Energy acceleration, and has a built-in Pokémon Catcher type effect. It’s also one of the few decks that can comfortably play 3 games in 50 minutes. The deck was a powerhouse through Cities and Regionals and gets even better heading into States.
The biggest change for the deck is that it now has access to Muscle Band, so instead of relying on Frozen City or Thundurus-EX to get the initial damage on a Pokémon, Lugia-EX can just power in for the 1HKO. Muscle Band also sets up some really nice match situations for both Deoxys-EX and Thundurus-EX.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 34
Energy – 15
1 Mewtwo-EX: The one Mewtwo-EX is in the deck for a number of different reasons. It’s a great answer to Snorlax or Deoxys in the mirror match, or to oppose Mewtwo in any matchup. The main reason I like to play it though is it gives the deck an out to Silver Mirror. It’s also about the only thing that stops the Dragonite matchup from being an auto-loss.
1 Escape Rope: I know a lot of the versions play just 3 Switch, but I like the 1 Escape Rope as just another answer to Silver Mirror. It also gives a very linear deck a few more options. The Switch, Float Stone, and Escape Rope counts are definitely all personally preference, but I like one copy in the deck.
Virizion/Genesect – Even
I feel like this matchup is favorable since you 1HKO them for 3 Prizes and they 1HKO you for 2 Prizes. I’m sure I’d get some Virizion/Genesect players that would disagree with me though. There is no real strategy to this matchup; just the same – hit with Thundurus-EX and then clean up with Lugia-EX. Muscle Band makes this a bit more interesting since you can set up 1HKOs on their 170 HP Pokémon-EX.
Blastoise/Emboar – Even to Slightly Unfavorable
The biggest difference you’ll notice with the deck now is that you don’t play Frozen City. Muscle Band is more consistent since you’re guaranteed the damage and you’re not just hoping they miss the Beach somewhere along the way. However, not having a counter-Stadium to bump Tropical Beach makes it harder to get an N to stick in the late game.
Techs: 3-4 Frozen City
Darkrai/Garbodor – Even to Favorable or Unfavorable
Personally I think this matchup is pretty even, but it swings dramatically based on the number (if they run them) of Enhanced Hammer and Silver Mirror. The best strategy is to really keep track of your switching cards and Tool Scrappers. Missing a sleep flip at any point in the game can really hurt you and it’s important to use your Tool Scrappers when you get the most use out of them. This matchup really involves planning your Prizes so Lugia will have “Overflow” active at the right points.
Techs: 3rd Tool Scrapper
I’m actually pretty excited for States this year as the meta seems extremely diverse and the best-of-three format allows for more games and less luck-based results. The system is far from perfect, but I think by this point a lot of players know how the handle the system as best as they can.
So far this year I haven’t played as much as I have in the past, but that’s all going to change coming into States and Spring Regionals. Right now it looks like I’ll be able to play in all three weekends of States and then attend at least one Spring Regional. The plan right now is to play in Wisconsin States, and then depending on how weekends fall the last two States will either be Minnesota, Iowa, or Illinois. Then of course I’ll be playing Wisconsin Regionals in April.
I’ve been very fortunate lately how well everything has been working out for me. Life is good, work is good, Pokémon is good, and I especially look forward to seeing everybody in under a month. I always love meeting new people, so please, if you see me come up and say hi.
Hopefully after reading this article you got a lot of insight into different matchups and how I build my lists. If you enjoyed reading please remember to click the “Like” button just below!
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