It’s Been a Minute

An All-Inclusive Tome on the Early NXD-XY Format
ash ketchum magician uh ohpokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
I didn’t quite cut it as a magician.

Hello everyone. I just wanted to preface that I am overjoyed to be writing for Adam and SixPrizes again after quite the time away from the Underground program. After Worlds 2011, I took a break from the game, deciding to focus my time and energy on playing Magic: The Gathering instead of Pokémon, due to a variety of reasons which, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t really that important.

Although I haven’t exactly failed at Magic and thus have returned to Pokémon with my tail between my legs, the truth is I cannot escape Pokémon forever either. While my drive to stay as active as I had been in the past had waned, my friendships with so many others who play the game did not, and as a result I was never really too far removed from the game as a whole.

Over the past two years or so, I did far more testing and deck building with my friends than a “retired” player had any right to. I also took some nice trips out to Virginia and Wisconsin for Regionals last year, although I only played in Virginia. (I judged in Wisconsin.)

I was more than content with sitting casually on the sidelines until I got myself caught up in watching the World Championships coverage. This lit the flame back up inside of me for the first time in almost two years. I could possibly say it had been even longer, as I will fully admit there was a decent stretch of time where I felt I played Pokémon only because I had some strange sense of obligation to. I was beyond burnt out, and just wasn’t having any fun anymore.

All of that changed in August though. I made the decision that I would be playing the 2013-2014 season. I attended the Klaczynski Open in Chicago to staff the event, and the entire time I found myself itching to compete. I tested a bunch with the local Ohio players here, and started networking again online with a bunch of players to get back into form. I knew even going into the Klaczynski Open that I was going to be using Plasma because I liked how the deck played, and also found it fun.

If anyone knows me, I am very prone to finding a deck I feel is the best in the format and riding it as long as I can, preferring to make adjustments to a flexible deck as opposed to hopping between archetypes. I felt that Plasma was very customizable and perfect for this style of play. I jammed a stupid number of games with the deck headed into Fall Regionals, where I planned to make my triumphant return to Organized Play.

And I did. Kind of. I played Plasma, and went 7-2 on the first day, and 2-1-2 day two to make Top 8 in the 7th seed. Only problem? I got myself DQed. Not for cheating, or anything like that, but I got into a verbal altercation with my Round 14 opponent under less than desirable circumstances. I won’t go into details, not due to shame or embarrassment, but because I’d rather not draw unnecessary attention to the matter for the sake of everyone involved.

For those interested in the deck list I played, here it is:

Pokémon – 11

4 Deoxys-EX
2 Thundurus-EX PLF
4 Kyurem PLF
1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

2 Skyla
4 Colress

 

4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Switch
4 Colress Machine

2 Team Plasma Ball
1 Ultra Ball

2 Tool Scrapper
2 Silver Bangle
1 Max Potion

1 Energy Search

1 Scramble Switch

Energy – 13

4 Plasma

4 Prism
2 Blend WLFM
2 Water
1 Lightning

The deck isn’t all that relevant anymore, so I won’t go into my card choices for it in this article. For anyone who wants to discuss the deck at all though, feel free to hit me up. I’d love to go over it in more depth. I’ll give you a quick recap of my rounds though.

R1 vs. Hydreigon – W
R2 vs. Plasma (Kaitlin Young) – W
R3 vs. Ho-Oh – W
R4 vs. Darkrai – W
R5 vs. Landorus/Mewtwo/Garbodor (Colin Moll) – L
R6 vs. Hydreigon – W
R7 vs. Klinklang – L
R8 vs. Blastoise (Sean Foisy) – W
R9 vs. Virizion/Mewtwo – W

R10 vs. Blastoise – W
R11 vs. Plasma – W
R12 vs. Klinklang – ID
R13 vs. Plasma (Evan Baker) – ID
R14 vs. Darkrai/Garbodor – L

After my DQ, I sat out Cities, but continued to test with my friends/team, and would end up getting the chance to do stream commentary for St. Louis Regionals last month. I loved doing it, and Vince invited me back to do it again this Spring, so I am very excited about that! I plan to stay very actively involved in the game, even if I do not participate in Organized Play events.

So where does that leave us now? Well, we have a pretty established metagame coming out of Winter Regionals. Now we get to shake things up with a brand new set! Before we can really address the fallout from the release of the XY expansion, we need to look at the cards that come out in the set. I’m not going to sit here and analyze the obviously unplayable cards. I do want to touch on the major players, and cards I feel are at least exciting enough to get looked at, even if they won’t ever get sleeved up.

Table of Contents

(This is a very long article. You may want to click the links below to skip between sections.)

XY Set Review

Venusaur-EX

Well, let’s look at our next round of “Evolution” EXs. This guy is a bit of a stinker. It has high HP, but its attacks are really underwhelming. A middling 3 Energy (2 with a DCE) poisoning attack isn’t very good. I guess you do get 90 damage out of it with a Virbank, but even if you do all the work to prop it up and make it as functional as possible, it is just so much worse than what other decks are already doing. It isn’t even filling a particularly crucial typing niche, as Virizion-EX, Genesect-EX, and Shaymin-EX are all better than it.

The second attack healing itself would need a far better damage and healing ratio to justify its cost. It suffers from the same problems as a lot of other EXs; they are big, fat, and slow without offering anything that keeps up with the competitive cards in the format. Some of them end up finding extremely fringe roles due to needing to counter a specific type or card, but Venusaur here sadly doesn’t look to be doing that anytime soon.

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M Venusaur-EX

Ok, at least they tried with this guy. It’s attack is very good. It gets to paralyze a Pokémon every turn. The attack, for 4 Energy, is what you’d expect out of something that requires you to skip a turn’s attack to be able to evolve.

Let’s touch on the new Mega Evolution mechanics real quickly. With the way the game has evolved and how hard hitting most decks are, giving up a turn to Mega Evolve is quite the cost. From what I’ve seen, the cards are just not powerful enough to justify the cost of Mega Evolving them.

I don’t know if this is the “design team” (I am still in doubt such a thing really exists – a dart board is more likely) being hesitant with the power levels until they get more familiar with the mechanic or not, but it seems like they went too tame on what the Mega Evolutions got. With mVEX here (nope, that shortening of the name is never going to catch on, is it?) you do get a bit of appeal though.

With a Virbank, you threaten 180 damage by the time the turn gets back to you. 230 HP is actually a whole lot. It is pretty much immune to being one-shot, even by Black Kyurem-EX, Snorlax, or G Booster. That is PRETTY nice!

With Virizion-EX, it is immune to Status Conditions as well. -EX can take it down for 5 Energy, but I get the feeling Emboar decks are going to do fairly well against Mr. Grass Type here anyway. A really annoying bit is that the Mega Evolution’s attack costs GGGC, so if you use a DCE to cover any of Venusaur-EX’s attack, it doesn’t really help pay for the big payoff. I could see him being pretty nice in a Hydreigon deck, where you can move Energy around and abuse Max Potion with its huge hit point pool.

Blastoise-EX

Big. Fat. Slow. Here we go again. Well, I guess he isn’t that slow, as he attacks for a DCE. Except his second attack costs 3 Water. Awkward. The Rapid Spin is kind of cute, but the damage payout is SO low. 120 for WWW is also pretty underwhelming when you compare him to Keldeo-EX. I know that is a bit unfair, as part of what you pay for here is the ability to Mega Evolve.

Where Venusaur benefits from being able to be paired with Virizion-EX, Blastoise gets, uh, Blastoise. How fitting. If you REALLY like Blastoise, now is your time.

I’m really unsure of the logic behind how they assign Weakness to Water types either. If they would have given Blastoise here a Lightning Weakness, then you have a reason to play it alongside the other good Water attackers. I get that they have been defaulting to Grass for Water Weakness lately, and here they like the type triangle with Venusaur and Charizard, but it’s little things like a varied Weakness that could promote cards into viability.

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M Blastoise-EX

Alright, we need to be honest with ourselves. The only way Blastoise will get used is with Deluge Blastoise. Blastoise here has a pretty solid attack. I like 120 and 30/30 for WWW. The problem is, it just doesn’t play a needed role in the other deck that can really make use of Blastoise. Black Kyurem-EX is one-shotting things, so the 30s hanging around don’t end up playing much of a part over the span of the game.

Having 220 HP is really nice, and I guess I could see that playing a role. The problem is, you get one-shot by four things normally as a Blastoise player: Snorlax, Genesect-EX, Black Kyurem-EX, and Rayquaza-EX. Ray still gets the job done. Snorlax and Black Kyurem get bricked, and possible mirror match implication may be the only selling point here. (Actually, if you get Mega Blastoise going and run a Max Potion or two, you should give a traditional Blastoise deck fits.) Genesect has type advantage on you, and with a Deoxys or a Laser puts an end to Blastoise here anyway.

Delphox XY

Now this guy is exciting! It has Magnetic Draw, in a format where draw power is fairly weak. Its attack is Secret Sword, for Fire Energy. I’m pretty sure everyone’s initial reaction was to pair this guy with Emboar. Could we see the second coming of MagneBoar? Will it make Rayquaza an obsolete inclusion?

I think it is more likely that we see Delphox included as a means of draw power, while acting as a proper secondary attacker (a role the deck has always been lacking) while the deck still focuses on using Rayquaza-EX to do most of the heavy lifting. You can’t really expect to keep OHKOing EXs with Delphoxes, but they can do a lot of work against non-EX decks!

Mystical Fire is such a good Ability that it could end up being splashed into decks just as a source of draw power and N protection. If we have Blastoise and Emboar decks running Electrode at the moment, I’d be hard pressed to believe they wouldn’t prefer to upgrade to Delphox.

Chesnaught XY

chesnaught xy 14 officialpokemon.com
If it was remotely good, I’d play it.

Darn it! I generally try to avoid vulgarity when writing, but this one hurts me right in the chest. Chesnaught is one of my absolute favorite Pokémon, and is almost single-handedly responsible for selling me a 3DS and a copy of Pokémon X on release day.

Unfortunately, we get this clunker as his card. I mean, he isn’t bad, and I get the idea of why they made him the way he did, but defensive “tanky” Pokémon like this are just not functional in competitive play. His damage output is low, and his ability to tank hits and punish people for hitting him just doesn’t matter enough.

There is a reason why Rock Guard, Rocky Helmet, and Druddigon LTR didn’t tear up Regionals. The format pretty much requires proactive cards, and this is about as far from proactive as possible.

I almost got my hopes up when I read the initial spoiler on PokéBeach, because they had the Ability worded that whenever he took damage from an attack, it placed 3 damage counters on the Defending Pokémon. I wanted there to be a cute exploit there, because its Stage 1 has an attack that deals 70 and 10 to itself. With a Celebi-EX, you could do 10 to yourself and trigger Spiky Shield for another 30 damage. Which is still only average at best.

Of course, the actual translation requires you to take damage from an opponent’s attack, which only makes sense, but it just goes to show how deep I was digging to make this guy not garbage.

Greninja XY

This guy is super gimmicky. I’m pretty sure it just requires way too much work to be good, but this is at least an example of a card whose design is explosive and innovative. If you are able to get a bunch of these in play, you are able to dump a whole bunch of free damage into play.

It is kind of annoying to have to run a bunch of Water Energy in a deck with an attacker who maxes at needing one Energy only. You’d run Superior Energy Retrieval to recycle your energy to keep dumping damage all over the field. If you get all 4 into play, you start doing 120 a turn without attacking.

If you want to do the full gimmick, you can run cards like Suicune PLB and Latias-EX to hide behind while spreading free damage, and use Tropical Beach as a draw engine, similar to how Chandelure NVI played. You could also take a more fair approach while using Greninja’s reasonable 50 for W attack.

Greninja is either going to be a really strong deck, or pretty much unplayable, and this is one of the most difficult cards for me to judge on without seeing how the format evolves first.

trevenant by taratostaratos.deviantart.com

Trevenant XY

Ah. A Stage 1 Gothitelle. This seems really fair. We’ve all seen the Gothitelle/Accelgor deck before. Now we see it as a Stage 1. I think this upgrade offers a lot to the archetype as a whole. Not only is it much easier to get a Trevenant out on the second turn than it is to get a Gothitelle, but it is easier to replace them if you find yourself in spots where you have to sacrifice them, which is where I really feel this upgrade has the most impact.

Besides this, Trevenant gets a pretty spicy little attack. For PCC, you do 60 damage and 20 damage to two Benched Pokémon. That is a completely viable attack. I will actually be going into a great amount of detail on this card, as I feel like it can be a format defining deck. I won’t say it is going to be the undisputed best deck necessarily, but I do feel like its presence is going to warp the rest of the format around it.

Phantump XY

Phantump is a pretty sweet card. With Trevenant being viable, Phantump’s first attack is extremely disruptive. It is great after an N or after a possible Red Card, which already offers more of a use for this little ghost stump than you get out of most Basics. I’m not sure a Trevenant deck will pop up that actually ends up with Psychic Energy, but if it does, I expect Phantump to attack quite a bit.

Skarmory-EX

skarmory-ex-xy-80-official
Bye-bye Silver Mirror!

Skarmory is interesting! It has a cheap Tool discarding attack for a Double Colorless Energy. The card is very splashable. It is pretty bulky too. It isn’t really an answer to Garbodor, as the damage output is low, and they’ll just keep replaying Tools while making meaningful attacks. Tool Drop decks generally don’t keep many tools on the Active Pokémon, so it isn’t of great use there either.

Where I like it is in Plasma decks that need a way to beat Silver Mirror, especially against decks which lock them off of Items to block Tool Scrapper. With Accelgor/Item lock decks and emerging as a surprise force out of Regionals, this is something Plasma decks really want access to going forward. It also is a Metal type, so it can go alongside Klinklang.

Its second attack is actually able to put forth more damage than its competition, even if it requires damage counters to already be on the Defending Pokémon. I guess that role requires Klinklang to be good, which I don’t feel it will be, but if somehow it is, Skarmory may get the nod there.

Emolga-EX

Well, this is lovely. This card might have almost been good if it wasn’t for the change in the first turn rule. While I get the purpose of changing things, as turn one damage was just way too high and making going first such an advantage, they could have made it so that damage could not be dealt on the first turn opposed to preventing attacks entirely.

There are so many possibly useful “set up” Pokémon that have one Energy non-damaging attacks that progress your board state that are pretty much useless now. They would be great on the first turn, but very very underwhelming at any point past that. Emolga is a prime example of this. Its first attack is too weak mid-game, and its second attack is just very average. A low HP EX needs to be explosive and impactful to offset the risk of it dying, and Emolga is anything but.

At least it has a free retreat cost, right?

Aromatisse XY

Aromatisse is pretty awesome! We’ve seen a number of incarnations of “Energy Trans” Abilities/Poké-Powers/Pokémon Powers over the years, and they generally are at least playable. Hydreigon has seen play either as a tier one archetype or a fringe player, so we’ve seen this type of Ability successful in this format.

You lose the power of Hydreigon as an attacker, and you downgrade from abusing Dark Energy to Fairy, but in exchange you get to work with a Stage 1 opposed to a Stage 2! You lose access to Dark Patch as Energy acceleration though, so I’m having a hard time buying into this being the superior alternative. You also don’t get Sableye.

I don’t think I see enough tools in this set to justify using this yet, but the card is very powerful, and we’ve only had one set worth of Fairy Pokémon so far. I’d be very surprised if Fairy didn’t receive a lot of support in the next few sets, and this guy is only a few friends shy of being very good.

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Slurpuff XY

Well, here is the Fairy Virizion-EX. It somewhat relies on a Fairy deck being functional. It takes up a bit of space compared to Virizion, and it seems like in most cases it will be worse than Virizion. I do like that they are giving Fairy cards a lot of good support right out of the gate, but it depends on whether or not they really get enough good attackers to make all these support cards viable.

Gourgeist XY

I love watching the evolution of this game. I can’t even fathom what my reaction would have been 7 years ago if you told me a Stage 1 Pokémon would have an attack that does 20 damage to all of your Pokémon for one Energy. While the power creep is pretty severe over the years, I feel like it is very hard to rule out a card with that attack.

The second attack is powerful as well, and works great with Laser! This is a card I haven’t seen getting much discussion, and I think it is pretty good.

XY 76

Alright, this one is a pretty extreme longshot, but being able to discard a lot of cards is pretty nice with N and Red Card. I’m pretty sure this card won’t ever get sleeved up, but I do like the interaction with it and the hand disruption cards. It is Dark, so it could fit into a lot of decks as I think it would be hard to say that any type in the game is better than Dark at the moment.

Aegislash XY 86

Well, looking at the card, it is pretty easy to realize that it isn’t going to be competitive. Nonetheless, it is a popular Pokémon, and one of the new Stage 2 Pokémon so people will look at it. The reward for the effort taken to get this guy up and running is far below what it takes for a card to be competitive these days.

The only reason to really look at these guys is the fact they are Metal and offer themselves to a somewhat limited pool of cards which could work under Klinklang’s protection. Still, I have always been a huge sucker for form swap cards, as I find them to be a creative use of mechanics and a way to really instill the flavor of the Pokémon into the cards.

Voltorb XY

Alright, this card is actually interesting just because the old Electrode is fringe playable, and this seems like a fairly good upgrade to the other Voltorbs at our disposal. The card isn’t very exciting, and it won’t change the format or anything, but its worth noting just because it should see play.

Yveltal-EX

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I like it. A lot.

Well. This guy. Yeah. Alright, alright. The Dark Mewtwo. Darkrai decks always wanted their own Mewtwo! Well, let’s look at this. We know how good “X Ball” is as an attack. Darkrai never wanted to run DCE, and you don’t have to with Yveltal, because it can use Dark Patches. Outside of mimicking an already proven card in Mewtwo-EX, it fills in holes for Darkrai decks that I’d say it sorely needed, if the deck wasn’t already so good.

First, it is a strong 2 Energy attacker. One of the best ways to beat Darkrai was to wipe their field of Energy and hope they couldn’t power up an attacker in one turn. Yveltal makes it much easier for Dark decks to continue their exchanges even if things go sour.

The next bit is almost laughable. It is resistant to Fighting. The other best way to beat Darkrai was to exploit its Weakness to Fighting, because none of the Dark Pokémon it had access to as support were great at fighting against Fighting types. Well, now you have the perfect answer. The deck just continues to get more and more well rounded because of it.

This card looks to fit into Darkrai/Garbodor, more aggressive Darkrai decks, and Hydreigon decks as well. This card, Delphox, and Trevenant are the three biggest players out of this set.

Yveltal XY

This card looks pretty good too! It may replace Absol as the non-EX attacker in Darkrai decks. You don’t need the Absol as a 2 Energy attacker due to Yveltal-EX (typing out “Yveltal” never feels natural, I don’t care how many times I’ve typed it) but you may want an attacker besides Sableye who is not an EX. I don’t expect more than one copy of this card, but it is a pretty good way to put energy into play midgame, and it can hit pretty hard too.

I think I’d be a lot more excited about this card if it wasn’t released at the same time as its EX card. This is another card that would end up being incredible if you could attack on the first turn, but one that is still strong even when restricted.

Xerneas-EX

Xerneas-EX is a pretty powerful looking card. It has an awesome Darkness Resistance, and a pretty much non-existent Weakness in Metal. I’ve already touched on some of the powerful Fairy support cards we’ve gotten in this set. The attacks are a bit underwhelming though. For 3 Energy (or two with a DCE) you get a 60/30 damage split, which isn’t bad. The second attack hits for 140, which is more impressive once you take into account that you’ll be spreading damage with the first.

I have a hard time not comparing this card with Darkrai, at which point it comes up well flat, but it has its own perks as well. It is, in a vacuum, fairly strong, I’m just not sure the total package you can build around it is going to be well equipped to beating some of the streamlined, well-developed decks we see dominating the form at the moment.

xerneas by arielmarcobodt.tumblr.com

Xerneas XY

I know I have kind of beaten this horse into the ground, but I am having a hard time not drawing parallels between the new Fairy type and its cards with the tools we have for Dark decks at the moment. One of the biggest criticisms I have had is the lack of any sort of Energy acceleration to match against Dark Patch. This card offers the deck the ability to dump a bunch of Energy into play. It has a HUGE amount of hit points, so you will generally get multiple turns of pumping out Fairy Energy.

I wish you could use its first attack on the first turn, as this could would end up being extremely good. Now it feels like it is going to be more of a mid-game refuel than anything else. Unfortunately, the Fairy Pokémon don’t seem so powerful that they can approach a game as anything but being aggressive, and Xerneas seems like it requires the deck to slow down. I think if the deck ends up being viable, it will still be a pretty vital roleplayer.

Its second attack is much worse than Yveltal (the non-EX) especially when you realize that keeping Energy in play is one of the struggles you’ll be having with the Fairy cards.

Max Revive

This seems like it is just a worse version of Super Rod, by a lot. Maybe if Eelektrik NVI was still in the format, you could use this if you didn’t want to potentially have to shuffle in Dynamotor Energy? Unfortunately, this card is pretty much a direct downgrade from Super Rod.

Evosoda

Oh. Cool. A Wally’s Training type card as an Item. I think this will be an interesting card to play around with. It seems worse than Rare Candy in a deck that wants to get out Stage 2 Pokémon because it doesn’t decrease the number of turns it takes to get the Stage 2 into play.

It is better than Ultra Ball in spots because it doesn’t discard anything, but it is still conditional and cannot grab Basics, or enable you to grab a Stage 2 to Rare Candy into. I see some decks with multiple Stage 1 Pokémon loving this card, but I don’t see a ton of decks like that popping up. I could see it being an all-star with Trevenant and Accelgor though. I can also see it being used as a 1-of search target in decks with Skyla, similarly to how Level Ball and Heavy Ball get played alongside a core of Ultra Balls.

I am actually very unsure of how this card will infiltrate deck lists, but I would be surprised to see it get a ton of play or no play. It is just another example of conditional Pokémon search that we have to choose from.

Roller Skates

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Team Pup ‘N Suds FTW.

If I can date myself a bit, this reminds myself of Bill’s Teleporter. I hated that card with a burning passion, but it wound up seeing play, and that was when most draw power wasn’t in the form of Supporters. I’m not a fan of Cheren, and I’m certainly not a fan of Cheren on a flip, but as an Item? Maybe. Item draw power is always at a premium.

I hate the flippy nature of it, but if you manage to get one to go off early on, I could see some really explosive starts. I think this card is worse than Bicycle is in decks trying to be explosive, because if you play a bunch of cards on your turn, you generally can milk Bike for a few extra cards. Bike can also be planned around reliably and is a great late game anti-N draw.

I don’t see decks going so all in on a draw engine that they run both of these cards, and they don’t necessarily gel together that well either. I expect this card to stay in Bike’s shadow mainly.

Muscle Band

This is actually one of the hardest cards for me to evaluate. It obviously competes with Silver Bangle, doing 10 less damage but being unconditional. Not only does the bonus damage hit non-EXs, but it can be attached to an EX! We’ve seen how powerful Bangle is, and we’ve seen Dark Claw be an all-star in Darkrai decks.

The problem for me with declaring this card as impactful is that I’m unsure what sort of home it will find. Plasma decks already have access to Deoxys. (Perhaps they will work really well together even. Maybe it won’t be worth it? It seems REALLY nice with Lugia though.)

Blastoise and Emboar don’t care about damage boosts. They just one-shot Pokémon anyway. I could see Genesect really liking the card, to the point where you could perhaps run a multitude of Deoxys, Lasers, and some Muscle Bands. Muscle Band also seems pretty good on Virizion. Darkrai already has Dark Claw. I could see it being pretty nice in Empoleon, but that is a deck that has taken a pretty massive hit in popularity since the start of Cities.

I know this sounds like a cop out, but Muscle Band should be a pretty amazing card in a few decks, but unwanted in most of them. I think the deck which it does see heavy play in could end up being format defining archetypes though.

Super Potion

I see what they are trying to do with this card by making it the not quite a free Potion and not quite Max Potion, but decks that care about Energy attachments (most decks) won’t make the sacrifice and decks that don’t care about Energy attachments (Blastoise, Emboar, decks which cheat Energy into play) will prefer Max Potion.

Professor’s Letter

This card is just a strict upgrade to Energy Search. We already know how good Energy Search is, so we can say without a shadow of a doubt that this card will see plenty of play.

Red Card

This is a very interesting card. My first reaction was how powerful this card reads. It is an Item that gives your opponent a 4 card hand with no backlash to yourself. We’ve all seen how powerful hand disruption cards can be. Judge, Desert Shaman, Rocket’s Admin., N, Team Galactic’s Wager have all been format defining cards. They were double-edged swords as well, and would often disrupt your own game to the point of it being problematic. Having access to a disruption card that doesn’t risk hindering you seems very strong. That was my first reaction though.

Unfortunately, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how extremely tight deck lists these days are. We have to approach this card realistically. It isn’t a Pokémon. It isn’t an Energy source. It isn’t a draw card. This means it is going to fall under that widely encompassing category of a luxury card.

red card artworkpokemon.com

There are just not a lot of decks which can squeeze in a few of these cards. A lot of decks would just rather force their own proactive game plan than defocus what they are doing to try and add a few destabilizing cards into their lists. You won’t see decks like Blastoise, Emboar, or even the current stock Plasma lists jamming multiple copies of this card into their 60. I wouldn’t be surprised to see decks like Darkrai or Genesect, which are pretty streamlined in what they want to do and have access to a lot of floating spots in their deck, run the card though.

I would be surprised if the card didn’t see play, but I would be far more surprised if it became a staple in most decks. With cards like N, the card is a powerful disruption card late game when you are going to want it for that purpose, but it is also a fantastic draw card in the early game when you need it. You get to piggyback 4 disruptive cards onto the back of your draw supporters. Red Card doesn’t get the same benefit.

Interesting enough, I was discussing the post-XY format with 93 time UK National Champion and overall stud Sami Sekkoum and made this argument regarding Red Card to him. He was later chatting with former World Champion Takuya Yoneda, who reaffirmed my suspicions regarding Red Card. Despite that, I feel like this is one of the more interesting cards in the set, and at the very least, it is one of my personal favorites.

Side Note Regarding Wager

Remember how a huge deal was made out of rock-paper-scissors not being allowed to be replaced by a coin flip? The ruling was RPS is not “random” but a test of skill. Well, now it is deemed random? Which, well, it isn’t.

This came up at Regionals where players were given game losses at the end of a drawn match at the end of the last round of Day 1 for trying to use a random means to determine the winner of the match, so as to not have both players eliminated from Top 32. They knew random means were not allowed and intentionally chose RPS as their randomization method due to the previous Wager RPS related ruling. Which is apparently revoked.

I won’t get into the validity of the ruling or anything, I just wanted to alert people of this stance now.

Team Flare Grunt

Well, we got Energy Removal reprinted. As a Supporter. I’m going to relate this a bit to Red Card. This is an effect that pretty much every deck is going to want to play. The problem again is that it eats into luxury slots. Only this one takes your Supporter play for the turn. Yuck.

I don’t think there are a ton of decks which can afford to give up playing a Supporter each turn to make this work. You also run into a problem where a lot of decks just straight up don’t care about it. Blastoise and Emboar shrug the card off pretty easily. Of course, Energy Removal is a really great card. I won’t say it will see no play. Jirachi-EX is a pretty powerful card at the moment, and this lets you run a lone copy of the card. In matchups where they have to play fair on Energy attachments, you can win a match off one removed Energy.

The card also seems alluring in any deck which has access to good non-Supporter draw. Decks with Empoleon, or Electrode, or Delphox, for example, would all be able to sustain themselves draw wise while spamming these.

Hard Charm

hard-charm-xy-119-official
Eviolite sees almost no play, so why would Hard Charm?

Anyone remember the days when people complained about Eviolite being too strong? This is just an unconditional version of that, and could wind up seeing play. I see a few problems with the card in both the current format and the one I see forming due to XY.

First and foremost, Tool Scrapper is a very popular card, with a lot of decks running 2 or more copies of it. This makes a purely reactive card like Hard Charm a very risky play, because a lot of times it does nothing at all. Tool Scrapper is often a concession to very specific matchups as well, and completely useless in others.

In essence, all this card does is turn an otherwise dead card into a productive one. There is a reason why Eviolite isn’t being played at the moment either. With so many decks built around Basics attacking, if this sort of effect was good at the moment, Eviolite would be a bigger roleplayer than it is.

The other problem is that there are just a lot of decks capable of scoring one-hit kills. RayBoar, Blastoise, Snorlax based Plasma decks, and Genesect (G Booster) all function in ways which make damage reduction weak. Even decks which don’t get one-shots two hit Pokémon in increments where the two turn damage is still overall high enough that they get the two shot even if a total of 40 damage is soaked up.

Cassius

This Mr. Fuji as a Supporter will more than likely not see play. It is worse than Max Potion at saving Pokémon from KOs, and it doesn’t give you access to the cards you return right away, so the upside to this one just isn’t all that great when we have access to so many great utility cards to stuff our decks with at the moment.

It does offer you a way to free up a bench space (or get rid of the liability that is Jirachi-EX) without forcing you to use your ACE SPEC slot on Scoop Up Cyclone, so it isn’t a totally useless card. I don’t see it seeing anything but extremely fringe play at the moment, but maybe cards will get printed eventually that work with it.

Tierno

Cheren wasn’t any good when we barely had Supporters available to us, and this clone isn’t any better when we do have those options. I love this card though, because Tierno is an infuriating character, and I am glad his card is appropriately awful.

Shauna

Because Professor Oak’s New Theory was just too good. I mean, this card seems really, really underwhelming, but it is a flat 5 cards every time you use it. We do have a bit of a lack of reliable Supporters that are good in all spots, so maybe some people will like to play this card. I don’t foresee me being one of them though. Even if it is stable, I’d much rather play more risky, high reward Supporters.

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Fairy Garden

Well, here is Fairy’s “Dark Cloak.” I’m not sure how much I like it. On one hand, it is clearly very strong. On the other, I really want my decks to have either Tropical Beach for explosive starts, or Virbank City Gym to help against having to mulligan… err, I mean, abuse Hypnotoxic Laser. Fairy Pokémon seem a bit damage light, so I really want access to Laser for them, so having to use this Stadium is a huge pain.

Shadow Circle

This card would be a lot better if we didn’t have Yveltal to help offset the Fighting Weakness for Darkrai. To top it off, most Dark decks want to run Laser because of how strong it is with Sableye, so you want to use Virbank more often than not.

Rainbow Energy

It is always nice to see Rainbow Energy in the format. This is a less conditional Prism, which matters as decks are starting to actually rely more and more on Evolutions. In decks that do get access to Prism but may want to fuel a bit of a toolbox of attackers, you get 4 additional copies without having to try and rely on some mix of Blend Energy.

This also works very well with Hydreigon, and in any potential Fairy decks, because they can freely be moved around from Pokémon to Pokémon better than any of the other Energy, and the 10 damage taken is offset well by being able to initially attach it to a dump Pokémon you don’t care about.

Again, this card is nothing new or exciting, but it gives another variation of an effect already offered by other non-basic Energy cards, and in a lot of decks it will end up being the best choice.

The Big Picture

todd snap photography cameraBulbapedia
The format is young.

Now that we have taken a look at the players to emerge from the new XY expansion, let’s take a look at how I feel the “big picture” of the metagame will end up being impacted. After that, I’ll go over a list of where I would start with what I feel will be most of the top emerging archetypes.

Now, let me put a pretty important disclaimer out there. This format is in its infancy (I used the term “format” here to represent a selection of legal sets, so the NXD-XY format is still a new animal here) and as much as I’d love to spend countless hours every day logging nothing but games with these decks, there is only so much work I have been able to do.

Most players, including those I test with, were busy attending Regionals all through the third week of the events, and a lot of testing was still going to that now lame duck format. While I have had time to do plenty of brainstorming, and I have logged a surprisingly large amount of games post-XY, not all of these decks are thoroughly tested. Some of them are great starting points, or even just a rough draft at an idea.

To be honest and fair with you as readers, I’ll put a bit of a footnote with each deck covering exactly what stage of testing each deck is in. I would much rather touch on more exciting ideas than leave them out because I hadn’t gotten to play 20+ games with all of them, and I’d like to think that is what most of you would prefer as well.

Winter Regionals Fallout

Anyway, to understand where we can expect the new set to take the metagame, we should first address what we wound up with at the end of Winter Regionals.

First off, we have the Plasma decks featuring Snorlax, Thundurus, Lugia, Deoxys, and Genesect. Yeti. Snorlax. Whatever any individual player of group wants to title the deck. The deck placed a ton of players into top spots throughout the month of Regionals. It is the current placeholder for the top Plasma variant, and I would be surprised to see Plasma drop off the map entirely.

Emboar and Blastoise are two sides of the same coin, as they approach the format in very parallel ways. They both were dominant decks at Regionals and before, offering slightly differing strengths over one another. They both offer powerful one-hit KO options every turn that plow through any slower deck trying to play fair, and offer the best “God draw” in the format. It would be surprising if both of these decks were to fade from the format, although it is very possible for one to become the dominant choice over the other as the metagame evolves.

Next up we have the ever-present Darkrai decks. Really, the only Darkrai deck to make waves is when it is paired against Garbodor as it lets it keep up with the higher power levels of some of the newer cards and their associated decks. Michael Pramawat took down the first Regionals with it, and while the deck didn’t have as strong of success in the following weeks, it was still one of the most played decks, and a popular choice for top players.

Virizion/Genesect has become a format stalwart, capable of player a powerful, low maintenance gameplan that is hard to disrupt and hard hitting. It suffers a bit from an exploitable Fire Weakness, and is given fits by Emboar decks, but is the definition of a coin flip deck, going roughly 50-50 against the field and allowing a strong player to pilot his way to victory on the back of skill.

It would be impossible to address the Regionals format without discussing Dylan Bryan’s Dragonite deck. The rogue deck got Dylan a T4 finish, and a variation of the Deafen-based deck led Ryan Sabelhaus to a Regionals victory in Florida. The Dragonite deck was fairly tuned to exploit a known metagame, as it is a very reactive deck and full of specific counters, so we’ll have to see if its game plan holds up as well with an influx of new, powerful cards.

While there are plenty of fringe decks in the metagame, these were the main players from the event, and should be the ones looked at most when evaluating new cards. A very basic approach to a new metagame is to update the proven Tier 1 decks. Most of the time, if a deck was very good before, it stays at least competitive, and updating an established streamlined deck is simple and a good place to start.

Once you update those, you can try the more creative decks. The challenge is to know how you want to update the new decks. To do that, you do have to take into consideration the more obvious newcomers to the format.

Incorporating XY

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Take aim and hope for the best.

I discussed in my set evaluation that I felt the best cards were Yveltal-EX, Trevenant, and Delphox. Another big card is Muscle Band, and I feel that people will at least experiment with the premade Fairy deck. (They really didn’t make that deck idea very subtle, did they?)

Darkrai/Yveltal seems like the most likely “best” deck. It has the most hype, requires the least change to an established deck, and is very affordable. This pairing, in some combination, will be very, very popular. I mentioned that the obvious Darkrai variants are alongside Hydreigon, Garbodor, or in an aggressive shell, and I think that the latter two are most likely, if not best.

Emboar and Blastoise did battle for which deck was a better play, and each one chalked up a Regionals win. Blastoise received very few tools this set, whereas Emboar got a massive addition in Delphox, giving it the resilience to N and stable attacker the deck had been pleading for. Delphox may even give the deck enough to compete against Garbodor decks which had previously been pretty close to an auto-loss.

My gut says the deck has now just overtaken Blastoise as the clear frontrunner between the two decks. You can trim the popular Reshiram and Electrode line plus one card of choice to slide a 2-0-2 Delphox line into the deck fairly easily.

The next big deck I want to touch on is Trevenant/Accelgor. I am sure most of you are familiar with the Gothitelle lock deck that won US Nationals for Masters last year, and how much of a pain it was. Trevenant is an upgrade over Gothitelle for a few reasons. It is easier to get out on the second turn, takes up less space, and is easier to replace if you get into spots where your lock is broken and you have to start sacrificing copies.

Now, it does have the downside of having less HP and a very pesky Dark Weakness, making it slightly easier to get KO’d by decks resilient to your lock. One of the annoying things regarding this deck is that some decks are just completely unable to beat it. Once it gets its lock up, it wins unless you are equipped with one of a few answers to beat it, so the presence of this deck can influence what decks are viable. Even if the deck doesn’t end up being the best, I see it influencing how decks are build and what decks are picked.

The last deck I wanted to touch on is less of a “deck” and more of just a game plan. Muscle Band makes Lugia a very dangerous threat. With Deoxys, decks abusing Lugia Muscle Band can comfortably pump out 170 damage attacks, and if it can get and keep all 4 Deoxys in play, it can hit the 180 mark as well. The easiest example of this would be the Plasma deck already seeing play just adding some Muscle Band and maybe upping the Deoxys count.

An “all in” approach with a turbo Lugia deck also seems feasible. A deck like Virizion/Genesect can run a lone Lugia, and do some pretty dangerous things with it and Muscle Band too. This is important because these are what I look at as the initial “tests” of the format.

These decks appear to be the strongest proactive decks, all offering a different variety of threats:

  1. Emboar ends up throwing down one-hit kills every turn and has more raw power than any deck. You either need to race it, have a plan for favorable exchanges, or be able to disrupt it.
  2. Darkrai/Yveltal is the standard bearer for the “Big Basics”/”aggressive deck” now, and it is the benchmark by which fair decks and other aggressive decks will be compared to. If you can’t deal with this deck, you are in for a lot of problems.
  3. The Trevenant deck beats any deck not packing Keldeo-EX, Virizion-EX, Slurpuff, Genesect-EX, or Snorlax. While these are popular cards, if your deck doesn’t have one, you really aren’t going to win that match.
  4. You also have to have a plan to be able to beat a fast Lugia just cheating the Prize race. You either need a way to knock it out quickly , or prevent it from getting kills, or keep energy off of it.

All of these are things you need to compete against, and while you can afford to write off one of these as your weaker matchup, you can’t go in with a deck soft to most of these approaches and expect to do well.

Let me start with a deck I feel is the easiest to update, and one of my personal favorites. I loved RayBoar for Regionals, and had I played this season’s events, I would have been sleeving it up.

Emboar/Delphox

Testing Level: Extensive

Pokémon – 14

2 Tepig BCR

1 Tepig LTR
3 Emboar LTR
2 Fennekin KSS
2 Delphox XY
3 Rayquaza-EX DRX
1 Rayquaza DRV

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla

 

4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball

4 Superior Energy Retrieval
4 Rare Candy

2 Pokémon Catcher
1 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Super Rod

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

9 Fire

2 Lightning

Possible Inclusions

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It fits in the deck extremely well.

This isn’t a major departure from previous Emboar builds. Your main attacker is Rayquaza-EX. You no longer need a Fire type attacker (in Reshiram) due to Delphox being a strong attacker. It also gets rid of the need for Mewtwo, which was primarily to give you a stable attacker that doesn’t discard Energy if you have to play around N. The Delphox line lets you cut the deck of the fluff attackers and the clunky and awful Electrode. (I still played it, but it is not something I was proud of. I am glad we have a better alternative now.)

The Emboar line is thin at 3-0-3, which as low as you can go. My friend Andrew Mahone top 4’d St. Louis Regionals with RayBoar, and he packed 4 Tepig and 4 Emboar. I like having a 4th Tepig because Pokémon Catcher has caught on, but I think 3 is ok here if a bit on the riskier side. Rayquaza (the non-EX ) is important for mirror match and Blastoise, as it is a non-EX attacker which can exploit the Dragon Weakness on Kyurems and Rayquazas, so it survives the culling of attackers the deck had experienced as a whole.

This build opts not to run any Stage 1 Pokémon. You can’t beat Trevenant even with them, as you have no out to the hard lock. Dragonite is unlikely to see a lot of play until the metagame settles more, and I actually feel like you can steal games against it just off of manually attaching to your Dragon attackers a reasonable amount of the time. You get Garbodor locked anyway once they set up, so you don’t even really benefit off a slow approach to get your Stage 2s out.

The Trainer engine is pretty standard for Blastoise/Emboar decks, and sees an upgrade of Energy Search to Professor’s Letters. With the Pokémon lines thin, I choose to run Super Rod here, even though I actually hate that card and find it unreliable and situational at best. It may be the best cut to make from the deck if you want to add any cards.

I went with a 1/1 split on the Switch/Escape Rope count because I feel you get some pretty useful utility out of Escape Rope. A lot of decks will try and disrupt your Prize exchange rate with a random non-EX attacker, and with Dowsing Machine, you get two shots to force an EX up Active for KOs and that alone wins some games. Sometimes it does rob you of good KOs though, so it doesn’t come with no downside. I wouldn’t object to anyone going the less fancy 2 Switch route.

The last thing I wanted to touch on was my Pokémon Catchers. I hate Pokémon Catcher in this deck. I feel like you usually want to be attacking the other deck’s Active Pokémon, as it is where their Energy attachments are. You want to win games by milking your Energy acceleration as much as you can. If they aren’t attacking, they aren’t keeping up, and if they are attacking, you want to purge their field of Energy.

You aren’t fundamentally a board position concerned deck. You just race on Prizes regardless of what they do. It isn’t a deck that Catcher fits into. Unfortunately, people started running Catcher in the deck anyway, which unfortunately forces your hand. You have to keep up with “mirror matches.”

I wouldn’t run Rayquaza DRV if it wasn’t for mirror, but it gives you an edge. You could justify taking a coin flip if the other decks did not run Rayquaza either, but if they do, you just become a big underdog. These are cards that improve your mirror if you want them, but stop being optional once the stock lists start including them, because it is no longer an issue of pushing an edge, but of avoiding becoming an underdog.

Catcher is another edge in mirror match, and a list running it will beat a list not more often than not, so you have to at least match that. Maybe Catcher will phase out of lists, and if so, by all means get this card out of the list, but until then it is a necessity. This is especially true now that Delphox makes the idea of “stealing games off N” laughable.

I choose not to run any Tool Scrapper, a decision showcased in St. Louis by Henry Prior’s T8 journey. I had been running no copies myself as well going into the event, because Garbodor was just so bad for you that the inclusion of the card to “steal” a very very few games against the deck seems not worth it.

Tool Scrapper is an interesting card. I only support running it as a means to deal with Garbodor. I don’t value its random utility used otherwise. You either run whatever number it takes to get you to beat Garbodor, or none. Since RayBoar doesn’t beat Garbodor anyway, you run none. We now have access to a stable attacker with Delphox though, and maybe we can capitalize on those Tool Scrapper turns. If testing proves this to be the case, and Garbodor is popular, then you can justify adding them back in. (Ideally over these awful Catchers.)

This deck has a lot of power, and can beat up on most decks that play fair. I feel your exchange rate lets you beat the Darkrai and Yveltal decks, and you can also chew through Lugia quickly if it sets up. I left the deck pretty well equipped for the mirror match. Unfortunately, you are just out of luck if paired against the Trevenant deck.

Trevenant

Ahhh Trevenant. Now this is an interesting point of discussion because there are a lot of ways to try and make this deck work. Beating the decks that are soft to your lock is easy, and you can beat those decks with pretty much any build of this deck.

The challenge is how do you build the deck to beat those cards which do counter you. Each of these approaches offers strengths against different “problem” cards, and I can’t say for certain which one ends up being the best really. The problem cards had been touched on before, but let’s go over them in a bit more detail.

Problem Cards

Virizion-EX

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There are a few cards that look to unroot Trevenant.

Well, this guy just shuts off your Status Condition game plan entirely. Which, oddly, is your entire gameplan. Which is bad. So you need a way to stop this from crippling you. The first obvious solution is Garbodor. The problem? You rely on Trevenant’s Ability to lock your opponent off of Switches.

At this point, if you take the Garbodor route, you accept the fact that you are playing an attrition game. You don’t get your hard lock, you play a long, drawn out game of trying to soft lock them and run them out of Switches. You also can slap some Silver Bangles or Muscle Bands onto Accelgor to speed up the damage process and race.

Ideally some late game Ns cause them to miss Switches and you get to win the exchange. You can exploit its Weakness to Fire to knock it out if it is attacking, or if it is not, try and Catcher it and do.

Keldeo-EX

’s “Rush In” lets you promote it each turn to break Status lock. This is a big problem when the Keldeos have Energy attached to them, and can retreat or attack, or if they have a Darkrai-EX in play and can retreat for free each turn.

One of the ways you used to beat this card last format was to Catcher it Active and lock it with Status, but with Catcher a flip now, this becomes very difficult to do. It also doesn’t work if they have multiples. On the plus side, you have Silver Bangle now, which means Accelgor actually can knock out a Keldeo in one hit. Blastoise can’t continue to power up Black Kyurems each turn even if it gets out before you lock Rare Candy, so if they resort to swinging with Keldeo, you can knock it out.

In decks not using multiple copies, a Catcher play works as well, if you flip well. Garbodor can shut it off, especially in decks using Darkrai to keep retreating it, as those decks generally do not run switch cards in the first place, so locking them off of Items is almost unnecessary.

Snorlax PLS

This card is a bit of a pain, because if they promote it when you have Trevenant Active, you can’t retreat for the Accelgor or Mew-EX and they break the status lock. Now, sure, the stupid impossible-to-retreat Snorlax is Active and they can’t play Switches, so it’s kind of bad for both of you, but it still is an issue and a game state where they EVENTUALLY can power it up is thus bad for you. This isn’t so bad because the Plasma decks are usually hard lockable, and an Escape Rope, or Catcher can send a non-Snorlax up, and you get to lock that one in place and likely not deal with Snorlax again.

Trevenant actually has a reasonably good attack to it, and if they try to Snorlax lock it, if you run any sort of Psychic providing Energy, you can actually attack through it. I’m not saying it is practical, but it is an option.

Slurpuff XY

This plays the same way as Virizion, and Garbodor or Catcher can answer it. You lose the easily exploitable Weakness, and it will pretty much never be Active. On the plus side, I’m not entirely sure how good the Fairy deck will be due to it having issues against RayBoar and Lugia, so it may be something you can write off. I also think the Fairy deck can be “soft locked” with Garbodor.

Genesect-EX

Genesect is a pain because of Red Signal. It can bring something Active besides Trevenant allowing the deck to use Items again, and breaking your lock. This isn’t the “primary offender” in the Virizion/Genesect match (that would be Virizion) but it is an annoying issue in Plasma decks that splash it. It is the one card which makes it so you cannot just reliably hard lock a Plasma deck if it makes it into play.

So how do we go about beating all of THAT? Well. It’s tough. First we have to look at what the decks are that run these cards.

How to Beat Them

Snorlax is pretty much exclusively used in Plasma, for obvious reasons. They also run Genesect. So if you are dealing with Snorlax, you are also dealing with Red Signal in almost every instance. This makes it tougher. Red Signal PLUS Snorlax lets them lock something totally useless Active too, which is a major issue. They run Shadow Triad as well, so if they play carefully, they can really pull off a lot of Red Signals. Snorlax is answered by Escape Ropes, Catchers, and Switches. You don’t need a ton of them, as you do just want to push for the hard lock on something other than a Snorlax.

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This problem pretty much sums up an approach you’ll end up taking a decent amount of the time with this deck. You will end up playing an N based end game. You have cards you need to dodge, such as Switch cards or Plasma Energy, as these decks will break the lock occasionally, and you need to pick spots to try and milk multiple turns out of your soft locks. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but you’d be surprised how many times you can catch them unable to find key cards when you N them low and only give them a few windows to work with.

The downside is these games are extremely difficult to play, as they entail a lot of reads and then some guesswork and hoping for the best. You have to also set up these turns, giving them enough to work with to get them low on Prizes, but also giving you some leeway KOs in case they draw out of it the first or second times you make your big plays. These have been some of the absolute hardest judgment calls I’ve ever had to make playing this game, and I’ll say now that I don’t even feel like I am always doing it right.

Garbodor can work here, but they run Scrappers and plenty of Switches, so it isn’t exactly the best. Something interesting against Plasma is creative use of Dusknoir. They don’t actually have many good ways to get out Snorlax or Genesect mid-game, so they will want to bench it. If you can put damage on their field, and mid-game slam a Dusknoir and consolidate all of that damage to either problem Pokémon, you can answer it. This forces them to have a Triad to get it back and also find a way to make use of it.

This works better to KO Genesect because its how they beat you, more than the Snorlax. You can also try and do something with Silver Mirror, and not bench anything but Phantumps, and eventually get them down to just 1 Trevenant, and slap a mirror on it, and win off that. Of course, you then get to puke if they bench a Mewtwo-EX or something.

Virizion pops up in two decks really: Virizion/Genesect and Hydreigon. Against Virizion/Genesect, you have a few ways to approach it. One if to run a Fire type. One of the Pokémon you can splash off of DCE is Flareon, and that OHKOs their entire deck. Well, besides random tech attackers like Lugia or Bouffalant. The Flareon (or Victini/V Piece, or assorted Fire tech) doesn’t really work against decks like Hydreigon who simply rest the Virizion on the bench and attack with Pokémon not weak to grass.

LUCKILY, I don’t see Hydreigon being a huge force in the metagame, so it can possibly be written off as a non-factor. You can kind of use Catcher to pull up the Virizion here with a fire attacker to take it out, as they just run one.

Hydreigon is also gross in that I’ve seen them run Darkrai and Keldeo as WELL, making you have a whole lot to answer. These configurations, though, do not run a substantial amount of Switch, and can be locked with Garbodor. They do run Tool Scrapper and Sableye though, so you get this interesting dynamic going in those games sometimes.

Garbodor isn’t bad against Virizion/Genesect either, but it gets a little murky there. They do run Tool Scrapper usually, and they can, after using it, Red Signal Garbodor Active and obliterate it. This means you have to run at least a 2-2 line of it to be able to keep it in place to win. You do get to play an ok game using Silver Bangle to really put some better damage out against the deck. The Bangles really work best with the Garbodor because you can get to 170 in two attacks instead of 3. A card I’ve experimented with in the deck is also Delphox, mainly for its Ability, but with a Blend and a Silver Mirror, it OHKOs Virizions and Genesects and can actually do some work in the matchup.

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Accelgor can take the pony out.

Keldeo-EX is a lesser problem. Keldeo is KOable by an Accelgor with a Silver Bangle, and also gets shut down by Garbodor. Blastoise resorts to attacking with them, which lets Accelgor really pick on them. They only run 11-ish Energy, and if you can keep sending up Trevenant, they are cut off Professor’s Letter and Superior Energy Retrieval and are unable to fuel the Energy needed to attack with Black Kyurems over a game, or to even retreat off Keldeos realistically.

This pretty much pigeonholes them into having to use Keldeo aggressively, which you have strong answers for. Decks using Keldeo and Darkrai together are a bit more difficult because they can keep the Keldeo benched, and not have to pay to retreat it even. They only run one copy of it, and since they rely on Darkrai, rarely run switching cards. This means if you can Catcher and kill the Keldeo (or get a Dusknoir KO on it after putting damage on the field) that they get stuck back in the lock.

Also, with no switching cards, these decks are vulnerable to Garbodor again. The Item lock isn’t needed if they don’t have a way to escape the lock in the first place.

Genesect-EX is going to be played in two decks. It is either used alongside Virizion, in which case you can hope to exploit a Fire Weakness as their whole gameplan hinges on using Grass type attackers, or it is used as a one of source of Red Signal in Plasma. The best way I’ve found to answer the card is just using Garbodor.

Here is the list I am currently using:

Trevenant/Garbodor

Testing Level: Extensive

Pokémon – 23

4 Phantump XY
3 Trevenant XY
3 Shelmet PLB
3 Accelgor DEX
2 Trubbish DRX
2 Garbodor LTR
1 Duskull BCR
1 Dusknoir BCR

2 Suicune PLB

1 Mew-EX
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 32

2 Professor Juniper

4 N
4 Skyla
2 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
1 Evosoda

3 Float Stone

1 Escape Rope

2 Silver Bangle

1 Silver Mirror
1 Super Rod
1 Rare Candy
1 Town Map
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Tropical Beach
1 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 5

4 Double Colorless
1 Blend GRPD

The first thing we need to notice is that this deck actually have two built-in gameplans. You have the traditional Gothitelle approach where you just get a Trevenant with a Float Stone Active, and chain Accelgor/Mew-EX attacks while never taking a KO with Dusknoir.

Look at the laughable Dusknoir line. 1-0-1 and one Rare Candy and a Town Map to make sure that pieces aren’t prized. The decks against which you want Dusknoir in are decks which you just eventually beat. They don’t interact with your gameplan at all, and you beat them once you set up. Who cares how long it takes to get Dusknoir up? Once you do, you win. This is the “easy” half of the deck.

The more interesting part of the deck is the second game plan. Against decks running the “hate” cards which you can’t lock out traditionally, you end up foregoing that plan entirely. The threats to the lock are too diverse to try and counter all of them and just lock them. Fire attackers and Catchers can deal with Virizion, but not touch Keldeo-EX or Slurpuff. Garbodor on the other hand answers all of the threats to the deck. Decks are equipped to deal with Garbodor to a degree, but not indefinitely.

Deon Lunsford got a feature match at St. Louis Regionals using a Garbodor/Accelgor deck. He didn’t even run Dusknoir, or Gothitelle. He just exploited the fact that most decks simply did not run enough ways out of Status Conditions to take six knockouts on non-EX Pokémon before eventually falling victim to the Status Conditions. The theory holds true. Most decks run 2-4 ways out of Status Conditions, and late game are going to have to survive threatening Ns to be able to draw into them.

Garbodor locks down Virizion and Slurpuff. Their “switch” count is the number of Tool Scrapper they have. Decks with Keldeo and Darkrai also run almost no switching cards, and their Tool Scrappers are their switch count as well. (They can use Sableye to get Scrapper back, but they run 1 Scrapper traditionally at most, and no Skyla to get it back if you N after Junk Hunt.)

The hardest deck to answer with this is Virizion/Genesect, because I’ve seen the deck run 2 Tool Scrapper and 2 Switching cards. They also can Red Signal Garbodor once they Scrapper you. This lets them really pressure your Garbodor presence. LUCKILY, they rely heavily on all EX attackers. This makes it easier to get KOs, and also makes Suicune very powerful against them.

Suicune also gets play against Darkrai. The play with Suicune is to duck into it when Garbodor is in play. When you do this, if you get Garbodor Tool Scrappered, your Suicune’s Ability gets turned back on. A lot of these decks rely HEAVILY on EX attackers so if they break out of the Status lock, they have to either have a non-EX attacker, or a Catcher/Escape Rope to get rid of Suicune. If you get both Suicune into play, Escape Rope is no longer an option. Genesect decks have Red Signal, and G Booster to work with as well.

accelgor hooligan mangaBulbapedia

The way these matchups play out with the deck’s “Plan B” are very interesting. Since you play all non-EX attackers, you end up having a pretty reasonable exchange rate against most decks. They are going to have turns where they do have the cards to break up your soft lock and take Prizes, but they also are going to miss turns over the course of the game and that is where you end up jumping ahead.

If they miss 2-4 turns over the course of a game being unable to escape your lock, either due to naturally missing, having resources depleted, or getting N’d, you are very likely to win. A key option to note while playing this “fair” game plan is that Dusknoir is not useless. End game, once they are low on ways out of the lock, it is totally possible to transition to a stronger lock. You just need to offer multiple angles of attack that they have to prepare for over the course of the game, and if they stumble on one of them, you can be there to exploit it. You end up Tool Scrappering your own Garbodor often enough even.

Against Genesect for example, they can answer Suicune after Scrapper, but you are just forcing them to have more cards each and every turn. These extra demands add up over the course of a match.

Against the Plasma deck, Garbodor doesn’t actually get the job done. They run too many switching cards, and Tool Scrapper. They also have Red Signal to kill your Garbodors. This is a match you just can’t win a war of attrition with through Garbodor, so you go for the win with Silver Mirror. You just bench all Phantumps, and once they leave you with just one, you play Silver Mirror onto it and win.

If you open with a non-Phantump, you force them to KO it before you drop the Mirror, as you don’t want to get this Pokémon Red Signaled and give them an opening to Tool Scrapper the Mirror off. Now, this doesn’t work if they run non-Plasma Pokémon, but they currently do not, so this only works until they figure this play out and change up their lists if they respect the play.

The 4th Float Stone actually got transitioned to an Escape Rope due to Snorlax in this match too. If it wasn’t obvious, the Blend Energy is included just for this matchup, so you can eventually draw into it and start attacking once Silver Mirror hits. It isn’t fast, but they can’t beat it once you get there.

I bet people are looking at the Virbank City Gym and wondering what is going on. It actually is a pretty simple explanation. Tropical Beach is awesome when you set up, or if you stumble mid to late game. I was playing a bunch of games versus decks with “hate” for your lock and playing the attrition game, and found my own Beaches backfiring pretty badly.

In these matchups where I rely on N late game to try and disrupt people and buy turns under lock, I was finding my opponents getting a lot of value off of Beaching themselves into recovery. I thought it was a fluke scenario at first but after logging a lot of games, it was happening a LOT.

I wanted to run a single copy of a Stadium to cancel out my own Beach to deny them to hand refresh as the game dragged on. I went with Virbank due to wanting the option to speed up the clock in terms of damage when I am racing as well. Against decks with Tool Scrapper and Sableye, being able to one-shot a Sableye is really useful.

Other Trevenant Ideas

Now that I addressed what DID make the cut, I want to discuss some alternative choices.

Garbodor

First, I really wish I could make the Garbodor line 3-3 because it is really important against Virizion/Genesect. I feel like, even with the current game plan, you are an underdog in that matchup. It is close enough that I am fine with it being the “worst” matchup though. I think if I could pad the Garbodor line up a bit to avoid them being Red Signal’d away that the matchup can be made even stronger, but you are running two full game plans in this deck, and I don’t feel you can afford the space allocated to it.

Draw Power

I’d love to see some extra draw power in the deck, as what we have here is the absolute minimum you can get away with.

Catcher

I would love Catcher in this deck, just because it is so all purpose and can really help you against problem cards. I just don’t think you can fit enough to offset the flippy nature of the card now.

If you do choose to add some, and make space elsewhere, once you get 1-2 copies into the list, you can cut the Escape Rope for one as the higher count can deal with Snorlax more reliably.

Delphox

Kevin Baxter tried running Delphox in the deck, both as a source of draw power and consistency and as an attacker that can KO Grass type EXs. The problem here is that you end up having to devote a lot of space to the card, adding the line and additional Rare Candy. These spots assuredly take up your “anti-hate” slots, and unfortunately the cards didn’t cover enough of your problems even if they made your good matchups easier with the boost in consistency.

Let me say this though. Delphox’s Ability played EXTREMELY well in the deck. I was overly impressed with it, but I just haven’t found a configuration that can afford to fit Delphox and also combat all the problem cards you have to deal with. Even attacking versus Virizion/Genesect wasn’t that useful, because your Delphox would eat a G Booster, or like, a Deoxys + Laser kill.

I guess I wouldn’t be entirely against running a 1-0-1 line just as draw power and ignoring the attack as the pipe dream it is just because it played so strongly, but I am unsure where I would free up the, at minimum, 3 slots needed to do this. (You’d need at least a 2nd RC.) It also is nonfunctional in any matchup you go with Garbodor in. I think I’d rather just have Trainer cards for draw.

Ninetales

We also looked at running a 1-1 or 2-2 Ninetales line as a reliable Catcher effect. Well, let me say something. You can’t do this, because it puts way too much pressure on Bench space. It was really nice, and allowed for Keldeo and Virizion KOs in spots, but it was a lot of work and cramped your game plan pretty badly.

It actually may not be that bad if you wanted to try something crazy and run Laser. That way you could Bright Look Keldeos and Accelgor/Mirror kill those, and you could Bright Look Virizions and then Garbotoxin and Laser Virizion to take it out with Ninetales’ attack. Ninetales is also able to break up Snorlax’s lock, and gets you a KO on tech Genesects in Plasma. But as you can see, this means you have to run Ninetales, Laser(s), and Fire sources. The deck simply can’t fit all of this.

One of the initial looks I took at Trevenant was alongside Flareon and other assorted Eeveelutions. Flareon fed off DCE, and could easily answer Genesect and Virizion. Leafeon is good against Keldeo, but ends up being a win more card because Accelgor with Bangle does the job anyway.

If mirror match becomes a thing (You’ll notice I have not touched on this. The reason? I have absolutely no idea how I would even approach this. It is hard to test mirror when you are still working on making the deck functional vs. the metagame.) you could run Espeon to deal with Status Conditions.

Flareon also makes “fair” games fairly interesting, because you eventually hit this threshold of Pokémon in the discard pile where you can just sweep Prizes at the end.

One of the issues I have with Flareon in general was that games happened so quickly that you never got to a point where Flareon was powerful enough to justify itself before the game had gotten out of hand. When you have a deck that slows the game to a crawl and forces a very long game, it gets all the time in the world to hit that point and it can really swing a game.

Trevenant/Flareon

Testing Level: Theoretical

Pokémon – 23

4 Phantump XY
3 Trevenant XY
3 Eevee PLF 90
3 Flareon PLF
3 Shelmet PLB
3 Accelgor DEX

1 Duskull BCR
1 Dusknoir BCR
1 Mew-EX
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 33

2 Professor Juniper
4 N

4 Skyla
3 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
1 Evosoda

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Float Stone
2 Silver Bangle
1 Super Rod
1 Town Map
1 Rare Candy
1 Tool Scrapper

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Now let’s look at various Darkrai/Yveltal plans.

Darkrai/Garbodor

Testing Level: Moderate

Pokémon – 13

2 Trubbish DRX
2 Garbodor LTR

3 Sableye DEX
2 Darkrai-EX
2 Yveltal-EX
1 Yveltal XY
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Random Receiver
2 Bicycle

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Dark Patch
4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Float Stone
1 Escape Rope
2 Pokémon Catcher

2 Muscle Band

1 Silver Mirror
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 Darkness

Possible Inclusions

professors-letter-xy-123-pokegympokegym.net
I wonder what’s inside?!?

This is a pretty simple port over, to be honest. We can safely revert to two Darkrai-EX now that we have Yveltal-EX as an attacker and the non-EX Yveltal is a card I prefer to Absol so far. Absol is still a strong card so I won’t rule out running it, but I don’t think I’d consider cutting an Yveltal to do it. Keldeo-EX is an optional card. You don’t need it, but if you respect Trevenant, it does a lot to shore up that matchup.

Muscle Band is an almost irrelevant upgrade to Dark Claw here. Professor’s Letter is an upgrade to Energy Search, and pretty nice in here. The deck foregoes a lot of potential utility cards such as Tool Scrapper, Energy Switch, and Max Potion, and runs 1 less Catcher than Pramawat did at Regionals.

I also chose not to run Enhanced Hammers, but I may want to fit them. You really only need one copy of the card, but with the Random Receiver/Bicycle engine over Skylas, it is very difficult to get to your tech trainers in this deck. It is one of the reasons I opted not to include a lot of one-of Items which seem strong in this deck.

I understand the strength of Random Receiver over Skyla in terms of aggressive starts and with synergy with Sableye, but the Garbodor build is a much more controlling one, and one that I feel would love to capitalize on a diverse toolbox of trainers to take over a game with.

My gut tells me Skyla is very good in this deck, and I would love to get a chance to log some games with an adjusted engine, but I’ve only been able to really test the deck with the traditional and proven Random Receiver approach. If I did make the change to Skyla, I would do a total overhaul of the trainers and try and take full advantage of the flexibility the Supporter offers the deck.

Darkrai/Yveltal

Testing Level: Moderate

Pokémon – 11

3 Darkrai-EX
3 Sableye DEX
2 Yveltal-EX
2 Yveltal XY
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 39

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Random Receiver
2 Bicycle

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Hypnotoxic Laser
4 Dark Patch
3 Energy Switch

3 Pokémon Catcher
2 Muscle Band
1 Escape Rope
1 Tool Scrapper

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 Darkness

Possible Inclusions

This is a pretty basic aggressive Darkrai/Yveltal starting point. Unlike the Garbodor build, it runs Computer Search and Energy Switch to really try and maximize the chances of getting a very aggressive start. You end up faster and harder hitting while also being more resilient in exchanges, but you somewhat concede to having a pretty poor match against Emboar and Blastoise. By not being able to turn off their Abilities you are going to struggle to keep up with the KOs they can threaten. Keldeo gives you game against an unprepared Trevenant player, and a second copy should shore up the matchup if they do not run Garbodor.

I am actually a bit hesitant to want to run 3 Sableye in the deck as well. I feel like the deck wants to use Junk Hunt less than Darkrai/Garbodor as you want to be progressing the exchange more aggressively than the more controlling Garbodor build.

That said, I am not going to jump to that conclusion hastily when more experienced Darkrai players have kept this count for so long now. I am a perfectly fine Darkrai player and understand the deck well enough, but Darkrai is an deck which really rewards expertise with the deck, and there are far better Darkrai players than me out there whose opinions I value regarding Sableye.

Hydreigon

Testing Level: Theoretical

Pokémon – 16

2 Deino LTR

1 Deino PLF 75
3 Hydreigon LTR

3 Sableye DEX
2 Darkrai-EX
2 Yveltal-EX
1 Keldeo-EX
1 Virizion-EX
1 Shaymin-EX NXD

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Rare Candy

3 Dark Patch
3 Max Potion
2 Tool Scrapper
1 Silver Bangle

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search

 

1 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

6 Darkness
4 Blend GRPD
1 Rainbow

Possible Inclusions

hydreigon-legendary-treasures-ltr-99pokegym.net
Rainbow gives it more options than Fairies.

I spent quite a lot of time complaining about how I dislike Hydreigon as a deck. I feel it is slow, poor in timed games, and extremely weak to decks able to pull off one-hit knockouts. Yveltal speeds the deck up quite a bit, and Rainbow Energy gives you additional copies of Blend so you have more than 4 reasonable copies of non-Darkness Energy.

As you can see, even though Hydreigon lets you circumvent the damage from Rainbow Energy to a degree, I’m still going with 4 Blend and only 1 Rainbow because Blend covers all the relevant types of Energy I am looking for. Now, this could be a bit of shortsightedness on my end because with the focus on 4 Rainbow it does widen the pool of splash attackers we can run in the deck but nothing really jumps to mind as a card I’d want to include.

Some of the more notable card counts in the deck are the decision to use two Tool Scrapper, and the Silver Bangle. Darkrai/Garbodor is a pain for this deck if you only end up with one Scrapper. I got to commentate Colin Moll’s match at St. Louis as he used Hydreigon, and he lost the first game because he only was able to find one of his Scrappers.

You hit this board state a lot of times when Garbodor is Junk Hunting for Lasers and Tools, and you have to grab Tool Scrapper with your own Sableye. If you hit that parity, they are putting damage on you with Lasers, and you are just treading water. You need to hit a point where you can stockpile 2 Scrappers so you can actually have turns of making progress by attacking as well. I’m a bit annoyed to have to squeeze two Scrappers into a tight list like this, but it is a necessary evil.

Silver Bangle gets the cut over the more versatile Muscle Band because I really appreciate the ability to reach 170 damage with Hydreigon. Outside of that attack, you still usually end up two-hitting most things and I don’t see the 20 damage being super beneficial in a lot of spots. It is also reasonable to try and fit a Muscle Band alongside the Bangle if I am just overlooking some key play it enables.

Virizion/Genesect

Testing Level: Moderate

Pokémon – 12

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Virizion-EX

3 Genesect-EX

1 Lugia-EX
1 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
1 Colress

2 Shadow Triad

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Ultra Ball
3 Colress Machine

3 Muscle Band

2 Switch

1 Energy Switch

1 Super Rod
1 Professor’s Letter

1 G Booster

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Grass

4 Plasma

Possible Inclusions

Alright, this is me taking a traditional Virizion/Genesect list and going very extreme with it. People have run Deoxys in the deck as a small count for awhile now. While I’ve seen some lists not running Laser lately (let me also state I don’t agree with this at all, even though I understand the mirror match implications) they are also fairly standard.

With Muscle Band, Genesect now is able to threaten some really heavy damage output even without G Booster. With Laser, 3 Deoxys-EX, and Muscle Band, you are cracking for 180 damage. Virizion is able to deal 100 damage on its own with a Muscle Band and a Laser. As a result of this, I have skewed some of the numbers toward being ok with leading with Genesect over Virizion. Just swinging for 100+ on the second turn puts a ton of pressure down, especially if you can get a knockout with it.

I don’t know if the 4th Deoxys is necessary in the deck, and the high count of them may force me to add additional copies of Switch to offset opening with it, but I haven’t found it a notable problem yet.

Outside of using Genesect and Virizion as attackers, I run a Bouffalant as the odd “7th Prize” and as an attacker against EXs and Fire types. With Muscle Band and Laser it can hit to 170 damage. It can even score one shots on 180 HP Pokémon if Megalo Cannon spreads some damage ahead of time. Lugia is a nice addition in here because it gives you a chance to exploit the “Lugia with Muscle Band and Deoxys” plan, while also having what is otherwise a perfectly solid and aggressive shell for the deck.

One thing I wanted to experiment with, and this is something that would have been unheard of prior to XY, is cutting G Booster. With this many Deoxys, and Muscle Band, and Lasers, coupled with an aggressive Megalo Cannon approach, you are very likely to be scoring one shots using Megalo Cannon and won’t end up needing to G Booster in a lot of scenarios.

Ideally, if you cut it, you can add Scramble Switch, which works well with Virizion in the first place (it is pretty much a Super Energy Switch) but it also makes Lugia a much more realistic threat as you can power it like you can in the “Yeti” decks. I feel like Scramble Switch ends up being much more dangerous in this deck than G Booster does with the increased damage output we gain from Muscle Band.

Plasma

Testing Level: Extensive

Pokémon – 12

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Thundurus-EX PLF
2 Lugia-EX
1 Genesect-EX
1 Snorlax PLS
1 Kyurem PLF

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Colress

2 Shadow Triad

 

3 Colress Machine

3 Muscle Band

2 Ultra Ball
1 Team Plasma Ball

2 Switch
1 Escape Rope

2 Max Potion
2 Pokémon Catcher
2 Tool Scrapper
1 Scramble Switch

Energy – 14

4 Plasma
4 Double Colorless

4 Prism
2 Lightning

Possible Inclusions

plasma-energy-plasma-storm-pls-127pokemon-paradijs.com
By the end of Regionals, Plasma was poorly positioned.

Alright, so after Fall Regionals, I had a bit of a falling out with my love affair with Plasma decks. Plasma decks as we knew them would shift into being more or less not viable. During Cities though, my friend Kevin Baxter had brewed up a spicy little approach at Plasma, focusing more on Thundurus and Snorlax and Lugia. Since then, the deck went on to become one of the biggest decks in the format, doing very well at Regionals.

This said, by the end of Florida Regionals, I felt like the deck was poorly positioned. I didn’t feel like it had any truly favorable matchups, and it had some really bad ones. Dragonite was a near auto-loss, and Darkrai/Garbodor, especially those running Silver Mirror, was bad too. Christian Ortiz’s Gothitelle/ deck also used Silver Mirror to pick apart the deck. The deck was certainly competitive, but it lacked offering a reason to play it. It could compete, but the compelling matchups were gone.

The release of Muscle Band really pumped new life into the deck though! Suddenly, Thundurus’ damage output got downright threatening. Lugia became a must answer threat as it now can reach the point of OHKOing EXs. The card breathed new life into a floundering archetype. (I fully expect players to object to me calling the deck floundering, but I really do feel it was one of the least appealing Tier 1 decks for Regionals. Results were still good with it and numbers were high, but me personally? I wouldn’t have used the deck if playing at Regionals.)

The big addition to the deck is the addition of Muscle Band, which I added 2 copies of. This should be more than enough. I can’t imagine needing more in one game, and you have Skyla so they should be easy enough to get. To make Lugia its most effective, you need to run 4 Deoxys to hit 180, so I increased the stock list’s count of 3 up to 4.

One of the bigger changes is me dropping Snorlax down to 1 copy. I didn’t usually get to use 2 in a game, and you can still grab it with Shadow Triad. You have better offensive threats across the board due to Muscle Band, and Lugia can get one-shots now too, so I felt he would be more of a “Plan B” in the deck than he had been before. Also, in its place was a card I have always been in love with.

Prior to the rules changes, I felt Kyurem was the best card in the format by a reasonable margin. Unfortunately he fell from grace pretty hard and saw no play at all. Well, outside of Evan Baker’s 2nd place Regional’s list from St. Louis. Evan ran two copies of the card and they were doing work for him all tournament.

Not only do I personally consider Evan to be an extremely talented player, he has had a great season thus far and has been piloting Plasma for as long as I can remember. He hit the nail on the head with Kyurem still being an awesome roleplayer in this deck. I had to cut it down to a singular copy due to space issues, but it still serves a purpose. He is a great low Energy attacker who can also sweep. He also takes the pressure off needing a 2nd copy of Snorlax due to this. Kyurem lets you set up EX KOs with Lugia in case you can’t reasonably have access to all 4 of your Deoxys.

The problem with running Kyurem is you are forced to run additional copies of Prism Energy. I’ve seen some lists which really want to just focus on using basic Lightning Energy to help against Hammers in Darkrai. By running Kyurem, you do weaken that game plan.

I felt that the matchup still wound up being a bit subpar even with the basic Lightning due to the popularity of Silver Mirror in the lists. I think that decks using Sableye will be running less Hammers just due to the amount of power they gain in the new Yveltals and them taking up space. You could see more aggressive Darkrai attempts, and less controlling ones, especially since the aggressive ones are favored in those games heads up.

This let me hedge my bets a bit and leave myself a little more vulnerable on the Hammer front to get access to the power from Kyurem. If you really want to deal with Hammers better, you can cut Kyurem for either a Snorlax or Thundurus, and switch some Prisms over to Lightning. You want a few to be able to use Deoxys-EX as an attacker. You can also “live the dream” and attack with Genesect. I haven’t actually seen that happen ever though, but it could!

I’ve trimmed some numbers I’ve seen people play three of, such as Max Potion and Shadow Triad, down to two, to fit Pokémon Catcher, as I feel the card is just very good. If anyone remembers Pokémon Reversal in 2011, you know what I mean. It is a steep drop-off from how good Catcher was, but I still think running them in decks randomly is still strong. They also seem particularly strong with Lugia, letting you bring up 170 HP EX cards which they may try to protect on the Bench.

I understand that we have Red Signal for this, but that isn’t always easy to pull off in tight games, and while it is good to close games at the end, I feel Catcher lets you play a more aggressive game while not disrupting your attachments.

Some of the cards I would like to include are a 5th Switching effect, 3rd Ultra Ball, a 3rd Thundurus-EX, and that 2nd Snorlax just in case. I feel like I may be slightly slim on attackers, but you do have Shadow Triads so I am not as worried. If you aren’t on the Catcher hype train, you can cut them to just pad some of the other numbers here.

Yveltal/Bouffalant

Testing Level: Moderate

Pokémon – 12

3 Yveltal XY
2 Yveltal-EX
2 Darkrai-EX
2 Bouffalant DRX
1 Absol PLF
1 Sableye DEX
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Skyla
3 Colress

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Dark Patch

3 Ultra Ball

2 Muscle Band
2 Silver Bangle
2 Pokémon Catcher

2 Energy Switch
1 Escape Rope

1 Computer Search/Scramble Switch

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Dark
4 Double Colorless

Possible Inclusions

The basic idea of this deck is to try and exploit Yveltal. I’ve been very impressed by this card so far! It is a hefty Basic attacker who spews Energy into play for you. With Laser and Muscle Band/Silver Bangle, your damage output really adds up! You have the ability to sweep with Darkrai or Yveltal-EX, and you get access to Bouffalant, which seems really strong here. It lets you Yveltal onto him, and next turn DCE to hit for a max of 180 on EX cards with Laser and Bangle. This, and the focus on a non-EX attacker, is why I split the Band/Bangle count at two apiece.

One of the interesting things about this deck is the lack of emphasis on Sableye. I want this to be an aggressive deck, and my turns where I can’t swing with a big attacker don’t consist of Junk Hunting. I want to use Yveltal. I kept one Sableye in for utility as it feels wrong to cut entirely, but I don’t even really like him at all in here because of the dedicated aggressive nature of the deck. As a result, I didn’t want to run Random Receiver because half of the cards strength is neutered without Junk Hunting.

Also, with a split on the Tools, plus a diverse range of lower count Items, I wanted a few Skyla to help get to them. I also have a lot of Pokémon in the list, so Colress ends up being stronger than in a traditional Darkrai approach.

I am torn between Computer Search and Scramble Switch. The deck is aggressive and plays DCE, so CPU Search is very good in it, and fits well. The deck also puts a bunch of Energy in play and can consolidate that onto a sweeping Yveltal, or power up Bouffalants off of Scramble Switch, so that card is very strong here as well.

I love Scramble more than any other player in the history of this game, I swear by it, so I am a bit biased, but I have been overwhelmingly impressed by the powerful plays it lets you pull off. It gives you access to plays that good players often will not play around because they do not put you on being able to make them.

One of the things I like about this deck is that unlike some of the more traditional aggressive Darkrai decks, I think you can have game against the decks like Emboar and Blastoise. You can actually play a very strong non-EX attacker game plan against them and win that way. It makes me wish I had a 3rd Bouffalant in the deck, as you can fairly easily two shot EXes, but also get 1-2 one shots on their attackers due to Bouffalant.

Absol is also currently in here as a big sweeper for low Energy, but it is more to test out how powerful it is than to say he is needed. I guess a safer inclusion is a 3rd Bouffalant, but I wanted to run a trial Absol. The deck also gets the gimmicky “one Keldeo and Darkrai” answer to Trevenant, which I like.

As a disclaimer, this is one of my favorite decks I’ve been testing so far, alongside Emboar and Trevenant, and is by far my personal favorite Darkrai variant.

Fairies

Testing Level: Theoretical

Pokémon – 16

3 Xerneas XY
3 Xerneas-EX
3 Spritzee XY
3 Aromatisse XY
2 Swirlix XY
2 Slurpuff XY

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
2 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Switch
3 Max Potion
2 Muscle Band

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 Fairy

Possible Inclusions

I stupidly wrote this deck off as a weaker version of Hydreigon out of the gates. I felt Hydreigon offered a powerful attack on a tanky non-EX attacker, and that Dark as a core type offered better support in Dark Patch and Sableye. Sure, the Hydreigon equivalent here is a Stage 1 and easier to get out, but Hydreigon hadn’t been losing for me because it was too hard to get Hydreigon out. It was losing because I couldn’t keep Energy in play or keep up with exchanges with harder hitting decks.

I felt like the tradeoff wasn’t really answering the problems I had with Hydreigon. You also got a more awkward Energy base. You didn’t get any Blend Energy which you can transfer around, and would have to end up relying purely on Rainbow and Prism (awkward) if you wanted to run splash Pokémon types, which I didn’t like.

I was underrating how powerful Xerneas-EX was as an attacker though. The first attack is certainly worse than Darkrai’s, especially in a shell where you can’t really fit DCE because of how awkward it is with the Energy transferring. The second attack, on the other hand, is quite a thrashing. By only having a Stage 1 engine, and needing no off color Energy or Dark Patch, you can comfortably fit Lasers and Virbank, and also Muscle Bands, letting Xerneas unload for one shot knockouts. This gives it a pretty nice edge over Hydreigon honestly. You also have a near non-existent Weakness on your primary attacker.

You lose access to Dark Patch, which is rough, but you are pretty much forced to try and use Xerneas on the 2nd turn to start dumping Fairy Energy into play with Geomancy. Because of this reliance, and the stipulation on Xerneas-EX, I’m forced to run 3 Switches in this deck. I want to be able to get Xerneas Active on the first or second turn as often as I can. Maybe it is just correct to run 4 copies of the card even, as it is vital toward keeping Energy in play.

The problem I see with this deck is that it is going to struggle against Garbodor decks. I chose not to run Tool Scrapper in here, mainly because this deck is still at the beginning stages of testing. I didn’t want a card clogging the deck while trying to test its engine and base power that is good in one matchup that may not even end up being favorable anyway.

You may be able to just get there on the back of your Resistance to Darkness against Darkrai versions, because you can just Geomancy a few turns and try to sweep. If that is the case, 1-2 Tool Scrapper may be able to break the matchup open. I am not entirely sure what I would cut to squeeze them in, but if Garbodor is popular it is probably worth it.

The bigger issue is I can’t see the deck ever beating Emboar or Blastoise. Hydreigon never really could. I’ve talked about the matchup recently with Pooka, and his big argument is that you can sometimes steal games using Shaymin-EX and N in the matchup as Hydreigon (not that it is close to favorable, but it was a win condition) and this deck cannot even do that because you don’t really splash any attackers.

You could try and run a few Rainbow and Shaymin yourself, but your Energy acceleration in Geomancy pulls Energy from your deck and not discard, so you have to be concerned. You can’t really do 4 Rainbow and 6 Fairy and hope to abuse Geomancy. You can’t keep enough Energy in play, and you can’t keep up on damage. Your entire gameplan is invalidated by the way they play theirs.

Your game against Trevenant is interesting too, because you can beat them if they do not run Garbodor, just due to Slurpuff. If they have Garbodor, those Switches come in handy again, as you can get out of status lock a few times, which is nice.

I chose to go with Dowsing Machine as the ACE SPEC because you aren’t really aggressive enough to want Comp. Search, and your deck already does what Scramble Switch does. None of the other ACE SPECs really excite me, and we are already slim on numbers for our Trainers so it seems like a perfect fit.

Conclusion

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It’s good to be back.

Adam told me to try and do a concise, focused in article, but this is very difficult to do when dealing with a wide open metagame like the one we are dealing with. I can’t address one or two decks in a vacuum when players have no idea what the rest of the metagame looks like, so I did my best to try and update you on the whole metagame, or at least the way I’ve had it developing for me in my testing.

I can’t guarantee everyone will find the same lists, or that people will test the same decks, but that is the beauty of an untested new set metagame. I’m sure I haven’t even touched on some decks which could end up being popular in the upcoming months.

Two cards I am interested in but haven’t gotten to work with are Greninja and Venusaur-EX. Greninja is super gimmicky and requires a lot of work to test, so I left him alone for the time being. Venusaur is probably not good enough, but running it alongside Hydreigon or Aromatisse seems like it could be fringe player. I’d love to run the deck at a League Challenge just to see if I could make it work.

There is also a very gimmicky Lugia deck out there, I am sure, but it is another one where I put aside really focusing on that to be able to test more reliable approaches in Genesect and a standard Plasma build.

I hope that everyone enjoyed this article, and my return to writing for , because it was certainly fun getting a chance to write again. I also look forward to seeing what everyone else has found in their own testing to see how much overlap there amongst all of the writers.

At a certain point, everything gets homogenized, but it hasn’t gotten to that point yet. If you guys like the article and want to see me write more often for the site, let us know! Hopefully what I’ve discussed will help you get prepared for upcoming events and gets you a bit of a head start in your testing.


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