Hey SixPrizes! It has been a while since my last article, and this time I am very excited to be writing my first article for Underground! With Regional Championships having finished up and the release of XY, there has been quite a lot going on with the Pokémon TCG lately.
I know that many of you are just as eager as I am to compete in State Championships coming up in just a few weeks, so today I am going to discuss the three decks that I have been testing for the past couple of weeks: Trevenant/Accelgor, Blastoise, and Emboar.
Each of these decks has different strengths and weaknesses depending on the metagame that you expect to see at your State Championship, so I want to give you guys a complete breakdown of each deck and why you should consider them as possible deck choices in March.
Table of Contents
The first deck that I would like to discuss is Trevenant/Accelgor. I had a fairly successful run with Gothitelle/Accelgor at US Nationals this past year, and the deck did end up taking the title. When Gothitelle was reprinted in Legendary Treasures, I revisited the deck and piloted it to a 3rd place finish at a City Championship back in December, hitting a Virizion/Genesect in Top 4 and taking a very hard loss.
What makes Trevenant better than Gothitelle? Because Trevenant is a Stage 1 as opposed to a Stage 2, it is incredibly easier to set up by your second turn. In certain matchups, if you can get an Item lock online turn 2, you have basically won the game right there. Many Stage 2 decks are not running Stage 1s at all, and those that do will have a hard time searching them out without Items.
Trevenant also takes up less space than Gothitelle. As opposed to a 4-1-4 line with a set of Rare Candy, a 4-4 line of Trevenant only takes up eight total spots.
When I competed in the New Jersey Marathon this past Christmas for Cities, Dylan Bryan piloted a Gothitelle/Accelgor deck to the finals of one event playing Silver Mirror on Gothitelle to win the Plasma matchup. I really liked this idea, seeing as if you set up a lone Gothitelle with a Silver Mirror and empty Bench, the Plasma player is unable to Red Signal around Gothitelle and get out of the Item lock and they will be unable to Scrapper away the Mirror. Incorporating this idea into my Trevenant/Accelgor deck, here is the list that I was testing early on:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 36
Energy – 6
2 Psychic Energy
After about ten games against various decks, this was the first version of Trevenant/Accelgor that I drafted up. The idea behind the two Psychic Energy and two Silver Mirror was that if I was up against a Plasma deck, I could set up a lone Trevenant with a Silver Mirror, attach a Double Colorless and a Psychic, and attack with “Tree Slam” for the rest of the game. It was a viable strategy, but it was not working for two primary reasons:
1. I could not draw into the Psychic Energy in time.
I could set up a lone Trevenant with a Silver Mirror, but I was having trouble drawing into the Psychic Energy. By the time that I started attacking, so much time had passed that my opponents could just keep retreating their big EXs, and in a tournament these games definitely would have gone to time and resulted in a tie.
I did not want to play Energy Search or Professor’s Letter because that would have been detouring way too far from the strategy of the deck to be worthwhile. I did however drop my original ACE SPEC, Dowsing Machine, for Computer Search which essentially gave me five more outs to my two Psychic Energy (four Skyla, one Computer Search).
2. The second problem was that about half of the Plasma decks I found myself paired against were running a slew of non-Plasma Pokémon.
Prior to Regionals, it was not uncommon to see a tech Mewtwo-EX in Plasma decks. This is an easy threat to deal with seeing as Mewtwo can only hit a loaded Trevenant for 100 with a Double Colorless; you have one turn of warning to bench some more Pokémon and prepare to combat the Mewtwo.
However, I kept running into Plasma decks running Yveltal-EX or Virizion-EX. I am not sure how common techs like these will be at States, but if most Plasma decks start playing techs like these, the lone Trevenant strategy will not be viable. But if Plasma decks begin to shy away from non-Plasma techs, then this strategy could almost guarantee a win versus Plasma.
One other difference between this list and traditional Gothitelle/Accelgor decks that I would like to touch on is the Keldeo-EX. This is a card that I desperately wanted to fit into my Gothitelle/Accelgor list for Worlds this past year but could not find room for.
If you can set up a Keldeo-EX with a Float Stone on your Bench, you do not have to worry about finding a Float Stone for every single one of your Trevenant. You can just use “Deck and Cover,” send up Trevenant, and then “Rush In” and retreat to attack the following turn.
Another addition to this deck is the Jirachi-EX. I am personally a huge fan of Jirachi, seeing as I have lost countless games over the years simply due to opening without a Supporter in hand. Jirachi turns all four of your Level Ball and all four of your Ultra Ball into potential Supporter cards.
Granted, having Jirachi-EX sit on the Bench the entire game can be a huge nuisance taking up a Bench space, and it can be a huge liability against decks that hit for Bench damage or run Dusknoir. The way I see it though is that you only play Jirachi-EX down if you have to. I would rather drop Jirachi-EX and deal with it later in the game than just draw and pass for a few turns before losing.
Without Dusknoir, I decided that the deck needed some way to hit a little bit harder. This led me to the inclusion of the two Silver Bangle. With a Silver Bangle, Accelgor can Knock Out a Keldeo-EX in one hit. Also, you can get perfect numbers on 170 HP EXs by using “Deck and Cover” one time with a Silver Bangle and one time without. The 170 HP EX will get Knocked Out coming back into your turn from Poison, so your opponent does not get a turn to attack.
As I stated earlier in the article, a great deal of why this deck should even be considered is the power of a turn two Item lock. This is why I play a full set of Level Ball and Ultra Ball as well as four Phantump. This maximizes my chances of getting a Phantump on the field during my first turn, and with four Ultra Ball and two Evosoda chances of hitting Trevenant on my second turn are fairly high as well.
After testing a little bit more extensively, I decided that the lone Trevenant strategy was not going to work for me. At an event a large as State Championships, I do not want to play a match with such an “all in” type strategy when the game could go entirely wrong depending on what techs my opponent is playing.
I also felt that a lot of the cards in my list were causing the deck to feel pretty clunky and deterring from the primary strategy of Gothitelle/Accelgor. I wanted to incorporate the benefits of Trevenant being a Stage 1, but not stray too far from the “Deck and Cover” every turn strategy. The games were getting way too close because my opponents were getting too many opportunities to attack.
I also decided that the best way to combat Plasma decks was going to be to Knock Out their one Genesect-EX. All of this lead me to incorporate Dusknoir back into the deck. Here is the list that I came up with and am currently working with:
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 35
1 Town Map
Energy – 4
-2 Psychic Energy, -2 Silver Mirror
I dropped the two Psychic Energy and the two Silver Mirror. This made the deck feel like it had a lot less “random junk.”
Silver Bangle also did not make the cut for this list seeing as with a constant stream of “Deck and Cover” with Dusknoir in play, there is not much need to increase my damage output.
It took me some time and quite a few games of testing to end up with this Dusknoir line, and I am still not absolutely certain that this is the “right” line. I felt like the deck needed two Duskull, and I wanted to be able to take advantage of Evosoda to get Dusknoir into play.
+1 Rare Candy
However, there were some games where a Rare Candy could have been very beneficial to me in a given turn. I did not want to run too many Rare Candy, because the only Pokémon that it benefits in this deck is Dusknoir, unlike Gothitelle/Accelgor where Rare Candy was pure gold to come across at any point in the game.
+1 Town Map
Only having one Dusknoir, as well as having Dusknoir on the field, makes Town Map a very good card in this deck. I was honestly never a fan of Town Map, but being able to use “Sinister Hand” to take a knockout in the middle of your turn and fish a Double Colorless out of your Prizes is just too good.
I also decided that in this list Dowsing Machine is superior to Computer Search. Without needing to search for Psychic Energy, and with the thin Dusknoir line, Dowsing Machine is a better choice. I feel like I have enough cards geared toward getting the turn two Trevenant, and I felt like I needed Dowsing Machine to help me “win the long game.”
Also, with 1-of counts of Super Rod, Tool Scrapper, and Rare Candy, I like having Dowsing Machine as a type of “insurance” in case I have to discard these cards with Professor Juniper or Ultra Ball early in the game.
Blastoise: Very Favorable
Blastoise is a very favorable matchup because if you can set up Trevenant before your opponent sets up a Blastoise, you are at a huge advantage. Most Blastoise decks do not run Wartortle, and those that do will have a hard time searching him out.
Also, if your opponent chooses to attack with Black Kyurem-EX, they will run out of Energy by the end of the game, so they have to attack with Keldeo-EX. Keldeo-EX is Knocked Out by one “Deck and Cover” from a Mew-EX followed by one “Deck and Cover” from an Accelgor. If you are worried about this matchup, teching in one or two Silver Bangle can really improve it.
Emboar: Very Favorable
Much like Blastoise, Emboar variants will be fighting a very uphill battle to the turn 2 Item lock. If you can set up Trevenant before they set up Emboar, your chances of winning are very high.
However, even if they do setup Emboar first, they do not have Keldeo-EX to “Rush In” and break out of the Special Conditions. Also, almost all of Emboar’s attackers discard their Energy, so you should be able to run them out of Energy before the game is over.
This matchup very much depends on how quickly your opponent gets down Genesect-EX and how easily they are able to draw into their Plasma Energy. If you can get up a quick Trevenant, then they are going to have to use “Red Signal” every time they want to break the Item lock.
If you can do this before they get too many Energy in play, then you will be in a pretty good position. After you attack three times, you can use “Sinister Hand” to move enough damage to Genesect-EX to Knock it Out. After that, you are pretty much in the clear.
Also, if you are playing against a Lugia-EX-based Plasma deck, they are going to devote more Plasma Energy to “Red Signal” than they want to, and it will make it difficult for them to stream “Plasma Gale.”
Overall, this matchup comes down to how quickly the Plasma deck sets up and whether or not they completely out speed you in the beginning of the game.
Virizion/Genesect: Very Unfavorable
There is no way to get around it; this matchup is your auto-loss. With Virizion negating Special Conditions and Genesect using “Red Signal” to get around the Item lock, I do not see any way around losing this matchup. This deck is the only deck keeping me from playing Trevenant/Accelgor at States. However, if Virizion/Genesect sees a decrease in play, Trevenant/Accelgor could see quite a bit of success at States.
Darkrai: Slightly Unfavorable
This matchup really depends on how many Keldeo-EX the Darkrai player is running. If they do not run Keldeo-EX, you have a very solid shot at winning. If they play one, then it is possible to get enough damage in play to use “Sinister Hand” to Knock it Out and sweep the rest of the game.
If they play two Keldeo-EX, chances of winning become very slim. It is really hard to deal with two Keldeo-EX unless you tech in a few Pokémon Catcher. Playing a few copies of Pokémon Catcher can really improve this matchup.
Garbodor Variants: Favorable
All Garbodor decks should be fairly easy to beat. Once Trevenant hits the board, they cannot attach any Tools to Garbodor, and if they get a Tool on Garbodor before you set up Trevenant, all you have to do is to play your Tool Scrapper and keep rolling. There is not much else to say here, but if you are worried about the Garbodor matchup, a second Tool Scrapper should solidify this win.
Random Decks Running Virizion: Unfavorable
I have run into a few random decks that run Virizion-EX as a 1-of. This can be pretty difficult to deal with, depending on when your opponent gets the Virizion in play.
If you can get 170 damage in play against any deck that you think might surprise you with a Virizion, then you can be ready to use “Sinister Hand” to Knock it Out when it hits the board. If your opponent gets Virizion out early, it can be a bit more of a nuisance.
Overall, I think that Trevenant/Accelgor is a deck that should definitely be considered when talking about State Championships. Even if you do not think that you will play it for fear of running into Virizion/Genesect, it is a very viable deck that you need to be prepared for.
As “stupid” as it would be to walk into States with a deck that takes an auto-loss to a popular deck, it would be equally as ill-advised to walk into States playing a deck that folds to the “stupid” deck. The metagame is looking like a big, complicated game of rock-paper-scissors to me at this point.
Next, I would like to present to you guys my Blastoise and Emboar lists and give sort of a comparative analysis of the two similar decks. I played both decks during the New Jersey Marathon, missing cut both days with a record of 4-2-0.
Not much has changed regarding my Blastoise list after the release of XY, so first, I am going to talk about my Blastoise list and why I chose some of the cards that I did.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
While most of my list is fairly standard, I would like to go over a few of my card choices for why I included what counts of each:
3 Black Kyurem-EX, 2 Keldeo-EX
I chose this split for attackers because while Keldeo-EX has a phenomenal ability with “Rush In” and an unlimited damage cap, Black Kyurem-EX is a much better attacker against Virizion/Genesect and other decks featuring big EXs.
I tend to think of Keldeo as more of a backup attacker for Pokémon with around 130 HP and as a way to get out of Special Conditions. I have been very happy with this split throughout my testing.
I already spoke about Jirachi-EX earlier in the article and how great I think that the card is, but I would just like to reiterate how effective Jirachi-EX can be to turn an Ultra Ball or a Level Ball in a dead hand into a Juniper.
Also, with the inclusion of Jirachi-EX, I have also become very fond of one copy of Cilan. With all of these options, you can either Ultra Ball or Level Ball into Jirachi-EX to search out a Skyla for any one of your Item cards, a Juniper for a fresh new hand, or a Cilan for three Energy that can hit the board in one turn via “Deluge.”
Exeggcute is another card that I have become very fond of. Being able to use “Propagation” to lower the discard cost of Ultra Ball, Superior Energy Retrieval, and Dowsing Machine down to “1” is ridiculously effective. Saving you up to eight discards per game makes this card well worth the spot.
I know that Sam Chen won a Regional Championship this past Fall running a Blastoise deck featuring no Tool Scrapper, but I do not want to take a loss to Garbodor at States. Playing two Tool Scrapper and a Dowsing Machine has me feeling pretty comfortable about the Garbodor matchup; any less and it would be an incredible uphill battle.
Omitted: 1-1 Electrode PLF
I have seen a lot of players play a 1-1 line of Electrode in their Blastoise lists, but when I tested the card I found it rather underwhelming. Sure, you can draw a few more cards once in a while and have protection against a late game N, but I just feel like it is more worth it for Blastoise to focus on setting up one Blastoise and getting a lot of energy in play. Why set up Electrode when you could potentially win in four turns? Electrode is not a bad play by any means, but I just do not think of it as being necessary.
Emboar has gained one notably good tech with the XY set. My Emboar list looks very similar to my Blastoise list with one obvious difference: Delphox. Delphox is very effective because you can play out your whole hand and then draw back up to six and keep on playing your turn. Delphox is also a great non-EX attacker that can easily handle a Virizion/Genesect deck.
Here is my decklist for Emboar:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
I tested a 2-0-2 line for a while, but it was just getting too clunky. I was spending too much time setting up Delphox when I could have been setting up Emboar and starting to take knockouts with Rayquaza-EX.
Delphox is really good, but it is still just a tech in my opinion. You do not want to devote too much space to it, or else you will start to take away from the strategy of the deck. That being said, Delphox is a very effective way of drawing cards early, insurance against a late game N, and a good non-EX attacker, especially against Virizion/Genesect.
The reason that I opted to play this split with Switch/Float Stone is that Float Stone can be attached whenever you draw into it, and you can benefit from it throughout the game (given that your opponent does not hit a Tool Scrapper).
Switch can be superior to Float Stone when your Pokémon are Confused, Asleep, or Paralyzed. I feel like with four Skyla and a Dowsing Machine, playing one of each (Float Stone and Switch) is the right call here.
Most of the other cards in this deck mirror my choices in my Blastoise deck, so instead of being redundant, I am going to mention a few cards that did not make the cut.
Omitted: Mr. Mime PLF
Mr. Mime has seen a lot of play since it was released. Jason Klaczynski even featured a copy of Mr. Mime in his World Championship winning deck. Mr. Mime is very good against Darkrai-EX and Landorus-EX decks, but I do not think that these decks need to be teched against.
Both Blastoise and Emboar have a pretty easy time dealing with Darkrai-EX and Landorus-EX, so I do not see the need for a copy of Mr. Mime at this time. If you are worried about decks dealing out bench damage though, Mr. Mime is your go-to guy.
Omitted: Max Potion
Another very good card that I have seen a lot of good players running is Max Potion. Being able to heal up to 170 damage off of a huge Pokémon-EX can be a game changer, but with all the decks that just trade 1HKOs until the end of the game, I do not think that Max Potion is the most effective use of a spot right now.
However, if you want to have a better matchup against decks that deal out 90 or 100 damage at a time, adding in a single copy of Max Potion can really improve your matchup.
Blastoise or Emboar?
Both decks are built similarly and play similarly, so which one should you play at States? While Emboar has a better Virizion/Genesect matchup and built-in draw with Delphox, I still think that Blastoise is a better choice for this year’s State Championships.
I just think that having Keldeo-EX’s “Rush In” Ability and Squirtle’s immunity from Bench damage are too good to pass up and make Blastoise the superior deck. However, if you expect to see a lot of Virizion/Genesect at your State Championship, I would not hesitate to play Emboar. Both Blastoise and Emboar would be great deck choices this March.
I hope that you guys gained some insight from my report of many hours of trial and error with Trevenant/Accelgor, as well as a better understanding of Blastoise and Emboar. I tried to cover one new deck as well as two already popular archetypes seeing as I expect all these decks to have some presence at State Championships in March.
I hope to be competing all three weekends, but I know for sure that I will be in Nashville for the Tennessee State Championship to defend my title. If you guys have any questions or constructive criticism, please let me know and I will do my best to address them. If you enjoyed my article, please do not hesitate to give me a “Like.” I look forward to writing for Underground again in the future, and good luck to everyone at States!
– Sam Liggett
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