All That

The Impact of XY, S/T/P Recap, and Rogues
cheer professor oak ash's mom mr.
The format is exciting to watch!

State/Territory/Province Championships just finished this past weekend, and many of you got in on the action by tightening up your favorite decklists, playing new ones altogether, or at least adopting some of what XY has to offer. We are seeing an exciting format that is fluctuating from week to week, and so I want to provide a recap on what happened at S/T/Ps, both obvious and not.

I also want to slow down a little and take a look at the game as a whole. In discussions here and there, I have often heard players talk about the “health” of the game. More than just personal preference, the idea behind how “healthy” the game is harks back to dissatisfaction with the game as it relates to that concept of “fun.” As an example, it is difficult to have a fun game of the Pokémon TCG with someone when that game never happens (e.g. your opponent is able to achieve a first turn win). Many would also argue that the game ceases to be fun when the format grows stale.

With this in mind, I want to discuss the impact that XY has had on the game so far. With Legendary Treasures primarily a set of reprints, this is the first true new set released under the last set of rule changes. How is it holding up, and is it contributing to a “fun” game or is it making things worse?

Finally, I am going to cover the observable things that are going on in the game as well as make a case for why our current format is one of the most enjoyable formats ever (as well as the most misunderstood). After that, I will address the various rogue decks that showed up over the past few of weekends. There is a lot going on, and I have a feeling things will continue to change throughout the rest of the season. Let’s get started, shall we?

Click on the link in the table of contents to go directly to that part of the article.

Table of Contents



Typically, I am not a braggart. I like to let results speak for themselves. Every now and then, though, I have to give myself some credit, and this is one of those moments. While I have never been overly explicit in making predictions, there are things I have stated in my articles for SixPrizes that have come to fruition. Consider the following list of claims I have made:

*While there were more Plasma variants than Darkrai-EX decks, I still got close to my original meta call. Had I played at any of these tournaments, I would have probably tried out my Trevenant XY/Accelgor DEX/Garbodor LTR deck I covered from my last article. In testing, this deck worked pretty well. My next choice would have been Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX, since I’m comfortable with the mirror match. I definitely would not have played Tool Drop because of the perceived presence of Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX.

Okay, so enough massaging my ego. Why am I mentioning all this? Well, it is one thing to see predictions about the game come true, but it is quite another to play in a format that most perceive as fun. One of the most exciting things about our newest set is that there is a lot of playable stuff in it, and I argue that these cards are playable because of things like the Pokémon Catcher errata (consider, for a moment, how ineffective Aromatisse XY would be if Pokémon Catcher had never changed).

Being able to see a deck like Greninja XY/Kingdra PLF climb to the Top 2 at a State Championship is almost a miracle given the direction the game took after EXs hit the scene. Granted, there are plenty of successful EX-centered decks showing up at S/T/Ps, but I truly feel that skill has creeped back into the game. Russell LaParre, as an example, placed in the Top 8 twice with a Flygon BCR/Dusknoir BCR deck. Again, that’s enormous progress in a game that for a solid year was mostly centered around 3-4 decks.

With some of the best rule changes ever introduced to the game providing a proper backdrop for skill to return to the game, let’s look at how the game is playing out currently.


XY has been an unusually influential set. I say that because sets that introduce a new generation of Pokémon are historically underwhelming in their own way. Diamond & Pearl, for instance, had absolutely no new notable Trainer cards (it featured reprints, most of which were already legal at the time). Additionally, many of the Poké-Powers and Poké-Bodies introduced in that set went unnoticed. Black & White, on the other hand, had only five Abilities in it and no new mechanics.

When you look at XY, a few things stand out. First of all, there are some powerful Trainers in this set. Muscle Band, Professor’s Letter, and Shauna are all arguably staples, while Red Card and Roller Skates keep things interesting. Second, the set introduces a new mechanic (M Pokémon-EX) and even the new Fairy type. Lastly, there are some powerful Abilities and attackers in this one. Trevenant XY got a ton of attention, Aromatisse XY has seen loads of play, and there’s a good mix of Pokémon whose attacks alone warrant discussion (e.g. Raichu XY, Xerneas XY, Gourgeist XY, etc.).

Apart from the powerful cards in the set is the precedent that has been established. Scans of the next set were recently leaked, and it looks like this one will be just as bold and influential as XY, if not more. Compare this to Diamond & Pearl, where the next two sets did hardly anything before Secret Wonders gave us Gardevoir/Gallade, the deck that maintained a stranglehold on the format for the rest of the season. For once, it appears the card creators are not afraid to take some risks here and there and provide appropriate counters when needed.


yveltal pixiv

S/T/Ps proved to be very interesting. While familiar decks have maintained their place in the game, other decks and specific techs are working their way into the fabric of the tournament scene. Some archetypes have been given a makeover, while others remain prominent based off power alone. Let’s look at some of these, shall we?

Archetypes That Performed Well


This one is no surprise. As soon as Yveltal-EX was revealed, players speculated once more on how powerful Darkrai-EX continues to be. Yveltal-EX was a natural inclusion, and many felt this deck to be the strongest going into S/T/Ps.

Plasma Variants

Plasma decks are still a dominating force in the game. They continue to remind me of LuxChomp (Luxray GL LV.X/Garchomp C LV.X) from the ’09-’10 season, since decklists vary wildly from player to player. Saying that a player performed well with “Plasma” undermines a lot of the individual choices that make this deck so versatile, so complex (more on this later).


I lump these decks together, mainly because they work the exact same way, with Emboar being the go-to choice in a metagame full of Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX decks. These two decks continue to be powerhouse options that have few glaring holes. Perhaps the biggest threat to any Blastoise/Emboar player is a second turn Trevenant XY. Of course, I heard of some players altering their deck to fit in Wartortles and Pignites as a direct response to Item lock decks.

These three decks have stood the test of time, performing well in basically any format they are placed in. Simply put, they are at the heart of the game we play right now. If you are neglecting to test against these three decks, you are setting yourself up for failure at S/T/Ps.


While the “Big 3” continue to assert themselves in the game, a handful of other decks are trying hard to earn the title of “archetype” in this fluctuating metagame. These are the following:

Aromatisse XY Variants

Benefitting from the presence of Rainbow Energy and requiring far fewer resources to get in play than Hydreigon DRX 97 (not to forget the Pokémon Catcher errata), Aromatisse XY has perched itself firmly in this dizzying metagame. So far, it has enjoyed the most success when paired alongside Plasma Pokémon (Genesect-EX, Thundurus-EX, etc.) or “Big Basics.” Again, this latter term does not fully represent the choices players are using alongside Aromatisse XY.

“Plasma Kyurem”

While I recognize this particular Plasma variant as once a common archetype, for the past few months we have seen less and less Kyurem PLF. Why, then, should it make a sudden appearance? Remember those “cyclical cards” I mentioned in my last article? Well, in some places, players are realizing that nobody is playing Mr. Mime PLF, and that Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX is losing steam. Combine those two facts and you have a very good reason to reintroduce Kyurem PLF to the scene.

Raichu XY, Drifblim DRX, and Drifblim PLB

These cards have been showing up as techs in a multitude of decks (Raichu XY/Ninetales DRX, played by Yehoshua Tate even took 1st place at Minnesota States). Splashable because of the C Energy requirements, Raichu XY is being used to take on Yveltal-EX while Drifblims DRX and PLB are being used to deal with Plasma decks and anything that has a high amount of Special Energy.

New Trainers

In addition to decks showing up at S/T/Ps, there are also a number of Trainer cards from XY that are finding themselves in many decks. Muscle Band, for instance, has automatically replaced Dark Claw in Dark decks. It has also shown up in plenty of other decks, most notably Lugia EX-focused Plasma decks. Professor’s Letter is twice as powerful as Energy Search, leading many who were on the fence about playing that card to finally open up a spot for Letter. Shauna is showing up here and there as a suitable card to replace 1-2 Ns in decks (the idea being that while weak early game, it’s less disruptive to the person playing it late game).


All in all, things so far seem like a natural progression for the game – on the surface, at least. Yet, there remains a level of complexity beneath the surface that I think many are ignoring. Let me start by categorizing this type of format. With a core 3-4 decks that are constantly being challenged by a few “outside” decks (what many would term “Tier 2” decks), I would describe the format as an “RPS Extended.” From my very early article about metagaming, here’s a good example of what that looks like:

rps extended metagame

If I were to put it into current terms, it would probably look something like this:

rps extended meta 2014

The moment I started thinking about the current metagame in this regard, though, I felt a great sense of unease. With the exception of Blastoise BCR and Emboar LTR decks, many of the decks people are playing vary greatly from one list to the next. Aromatisse XY, for instance, is played in “toolbox” fashion, meaning that players pick and choose a wild variety of cards to best suit their local metagame. Then, however, I realized that Aromatisse XY has been paired with Yveltal-EX, Klingklang PLS, and Plasma variants.

What’s going on?

In order to correctly characterize the state of the game right now, I am going to use a metaphor. That metaphor is going to be pizza. Mmmm, pizza…

Imagine, if you will, that you are desperately hungry for something on a Friday night. In the interest of time, you drive to a nearby Papa John’s for some pizza. Your choices are simple enough: cheese, pepperoni, supreme, BBQ chicken, sausage, or ham and pineapple. A friend you’re with chooses the BBQ chicken, while you go with ham and pineapple. You return home, enjoy the pizza, and think nothing of it.

The following weekend, you are invited to Mellow Mushroom by some friends. You are enjoying yourself when you suddenly realize you have to order something to eat. Looking at the menu, you notice the “build your own pizza or calzone” option and are fascinated by the numerous choices you now must make. What kind of pizza base will you choose? What kind of cheese? What about toppings? Proteins?

mellow mushroom menu

If you pick just the right combo, you might end up with something truly extraordinary. And no, I am not talking about pizza anymore, I am back to Pokémon. See, yesterday’s format felt much like the Papa John’s from my example – you pick an option, but that’s about it. As time has gone on, however, decks have become much more like the Mellow Mushroom metaphor. I can pick a base strategy (lock Abilities with Garbodor LTR, lock Item cards with Trevenant XY, manipulate Energy cards with Aromatisse XY), but I have to do the work of filling in all the rest without there being a clear answer!

Look at Trevenant XY for instance. Its older counterpart (Gothitelle LTR/Accelgor DEX) had a very clear decklist that really came down to whether or not players utilized Musharna NXD. Since the release of Trevenant XY – and remember, this has only been a few weeks – I have seen players try it out with Accelgor DEX, Garbodor LTR, Aromatisse XY, Dusknoir BCR, Eeveelutions, and Raichu XY.

Or try out Aromatisse XY, which has been paired with Klinklang PLS, Plasma Pokémon, and “Big Basics.” These last two terms – Plasma Pokémon and Big Basics – are so open-ended that I would have to dedicate an entire article on covering exactly what can be included here. Mike Diaz did a good job of detailing a lot of this in his latest article.

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to quantify these varieties of decks in tournament play. If I show up with an Aromatisse XY/Plasma list, that is exactly how my deck will be acknowledged (“Aromatisse XY/Plasma). My list might use Hypnotoxic Laser, Virbank City Gym, and Muscle Band to great effect, but this will not be recorded. My friend might play “Aromatisse XY/Plasma” as well, though with an entirely different approach. He might ditch the “HypnoBank” combo for Enhanced Hammers, Sableye DEX, and Frozen City Gym, but his deck will appear on paper no different than mine.

If that is not enough, here is a refresher. Remember when Israel Sosa won back-to-back Regional Championships this past fall? People made a huge deal about the single Frozen City Stadium he played in his list. If that much attention can be placed on a single card, how much are we as players missing out on when people report tournament results?

In a few words, I feel the tournament results we are currently seeing are misleading. If a player used Cobalion-EX in their deck, you can bet it would listed along with the other Pokémon used (unless, of course, it were as complicated as an Aromatisse XY deck). If a player maxed out on Enhanced Hammer, however, that may or may not be reported.

Later in my article, I will showcase a unique Plasma deck played by Nestor Luna at the North Carolina State Championships that was noted in the tournament as simply “Plasma.” Nestor’s deck was far from a typical Plasma build, yet on paper that is exactly how it was reported.

To counter this, try to get beneath those surface-level results. Do not accept that any deck has an ultimate “best way” to be run. Doing that is like ordering a regular pepperoni pizza at Mellow Mushroom – it will probably be good, but you are overlooking so many options.


team rocket spying

I want to dedicate some time to cover what you probably did not see at your S/T/Ps. Why? Well, it is important to recognize what hyped ideas are not working in the metagame currently. Remember, if you are spending large amounts of time trying to get a hyped idea to work, there is a good chance you are just spinning your wheels. You might not take that deck or idea to a tournament, but the time you miss on testing your actual choice detracts, and it could translate to a poor performance.

Here are some ideas or cards that players talked about a lot in the weeks that preceded S/T/Ps:

Red Card

What was predicted: Ahhh, Red Card. This card was supposed to completely ruin the game, remember? As soon as an opponent played it, you would draw dead and completely lose. Games were going to come down to who could play Red Card first, and the game was utterly doomed.

What actually happened: Nothing. Red Card has presented no major shift in the game, and it showed up in the Top 8 of no S/T/Ps (unless, of course, results are just that misleading). With powerful Supporters being the driving force behind how most decks set up, giving an opponent five cards to work with is too much.

Fairy Type Decks

What was predicted: Players seemed split on this deck, utilizing Xerneas XY, Xerneas-EX, Aromatisse XY, Slurpuff XY, and a splash of other attackers to pump out damage and heal off damage as well. Some liked Aromatisse XY and Xerneas XY, but that was about it. Others wanted to play the full package, having hope in a card like Xerneas-EX.

What actually happened: No exclusive Fairy type deck has done well. Rather, Aromatisse XY has become a game changer, but this was kind of expected after the success of Hydreigon back in the day. Xerneas XY has also been picked up for its “Geomancy” attack, capable of piling Y Energy on the field with little effort. Meanwhile, Xerneas-EX and Slurpuff XY have watched from the sidelines.

M Pokémon-EX

What was predicted: As is the case with any new mechanic introduced to the game, players momentarily got really excited about the new Mega Evolutions. Many quickly (and rightfully) dismissed these cards, while others just could not get over the HP (220?! 230!?!?).

What actually happened: M Pokémon-EX are pretty, and that is about it. Having a lot of HP alone is not enough to make a card good, especially with the missed turn from Mega Evolving. With Pokémon like Yveltal-EX being able to land knockouts in a single attack, M Pokémon-EX are still waiting for their moment to shine.

Gourgeist XY

What was predicted: Honestly, nobody really made a big deal out of Gourgeist XY, but it is a card that is just begging to be played. Two great attacks on a Stage 1 deserves attention, and it seemed like a card that was flying under the radar, waiting to be picked up by a great player and turned into a great card.

What actually happened: Well, Gourgeist XY is still waiting to be made into a great card. It does have a lot going against it of course, so there is a good chance this card will never really reach its full potential.


interviewer reporter tv

At the NC State Championship, I got the opportunity to talk to a few players about their deck choices, their performance, and what they think of the game in general. Three of these players went rogue, all playing decks that had largely been ignored.

Interview with Nestor Luna, Playing Palkia-EX/Snorlax PLS/Deoxys-EX

Remember the comment I made earlier about Nestor Luna’s “Plasma” list? Well, players at the tournament this past weekend did not see him playing Thundurus, Deoxys, and Kyurem. Nor did he run the version with less Kyurem and more Lugia. Instead, Nestor played a unique Palkia-EX/Snorlax PLS/Deoxys-EX deck with additional techs. I got a chance to talk to him a bit, and here is what he had to say about his deck, the game and more.

(First, Nestor’s list:)

Pokémon – 11

2 Palkia-EX
4 Snorlax PLS
2 Deoxys-EX
1 Skarmory-EX
1 Lugia-EX
1 Landorus BW79

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
2 N

3 Skyla
2 Colress
2 Shadow Triad


3 Team Plasma Ball
1 Ultra Ball
3 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Colress Machine
2 Switch
1 Tool Scrapper
4 Float Stone
3 Muscle Band

1 Scramble Switch


2 Virbank City Gym
1 Frozen City

Energy – 12

4 Prism
4 Plasma
4 Double Colorless

Me: What was your inspiration for the deck?

Nestor: Haha, I like using decks and cards that people overlook and when I first started with Palkia I tried the Palkia-EX/Latias-EX/Suicune PLB version, but it didn’t work since they were always able to retreat into a fresh attacker.

Were you happy with your list? If not, what would you change about it?

I was, but there is one change that I would’ve made and that would’ve been changing Landorus BW79 for Genesect-EX and fitting in a Thundurus-EX.

What are your best matchups, worst matchups, and do you have any auto-losses?

I played it because in theory it had a good matchup against everything except Genesect-EX, but I also believe speed Lugia-EX would’ve given me trouble. My best matchups would probably be against Blastoise, Emboar, and Yveltal-EX decks.

Finally, can you provide a brief breakdown on how you play the deck?

Well, I try to set up one Palkia-EX, two Deoxys-EX and as many Snorlax PLS as I can and basically 2-shot every EX and since Snorlax PLS keeps them Active, there’s no need for Pokémon Catchers. It also forces them to only be able to take 1 Prize card off the Snorlaxes, so you normally win the Prize card tradeoff.

Also, how did your tournament day go?

It went great. I went undefeated for the first 5 rounds, then lost to my friend who I test with.

What did you win/lose against?

I lost against my friend’s Yveltal-EX deck and Ryan SabelhausVirizion-EX/Genesect-EX deck.

Any outstanding plays you made?

I can’t remember if I had any.

Do you see the game as “skillful” when compared to past formats or not?

I can’t answer that question, since I’ve only played competitively for about a year or less.

Interview with Johnny Rabus, Playing Flygon BCR/Dusknoir BCR/Accelgor DEX


In addition to talking to Nestor about his unique deck, I also got a chance to talk to Johnny Rabus and ask him about what he was playing. Sure enough, he was playing Flygon BCR/Dusknoir BCR/Accelgor DEX, a deck that has intrigued me to no end. When I first saw Flygon BCR, I just knew the card would be powerful one day. I love its Ability and think it has a great chance of surprising many players. With only a handful of people playing it, though, it is obvious why this deck has gone undetected for so long.

Johnny mentions Russell LaParre in his interview, the fellow who placed in the Top 8 twice during S/T/Ps with this very deck, one time playing Accelgor DEX and the other time playing Donphan PLS. Of the four times I have seen it played, it climbed into the Top 8 twice, which is quite commendable.

Here’s what Johnny had to say about this deck.

(But first, Johnny’s list:)

Pokémon – 19

4 Trapinch BCR

1 Vibrava BCR

3 Flygon BCR
2 Duskull BCR

2 Dusknoir BCR
3 Shelmet PLB
2 Accelgor DEX
1 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Sigilyph LTR

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

4 Skyla
1 Shauna


3 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball

4 Rare Candy

4 Float Stone
2 Max Potion
1 Tool Scrapper
1 Escape Rope
1 Super Rod
1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Computer Search


3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Me: What was your inspiration for the deck?

Johnny: My inspiration came from my friend Russell LaParre who had been testing it for Cities (we both ended up playing it at Florida regionals this past January) and I enjoyed the concept as I loved Dusknoir and this could abuse it extremely well.

Were you happy with your list? If not, what would you change about it?

I was okay with most of the list. I would have changed the Sigilyph and the Enhanced Hammer to be another Mewtwo and maybe another Supporter. I also might have changed from Computer Search to Dowsing Machine.

What are your best matchups, worst matchups, and do you have any auto-losses?

Best matchups are Blastoise and RayBoar. You can hit them for damage and then get rid of their Energy acceleration, crippling the deck. Worst matchup is Plasma. Between their speed, Lugia taking multiple Prizes, and now (with Muscle Band) no need to have Deoxys down (thus limiting Flygon’s damage output). Virizion/Genesect is a hard match as well, almost to the point of an auto-loss now with Muscle Band letting Virizion 2-shot Flygon, and Genesect can KO 2 Flygon in 2 turns with the Band as well. Swarming Mewtwos against them though is a little harder for them to deal with, which is why I believe it’s a better matchup than Plasma.

Finally, can you provide a brief breakdown on how you play the deck?

I play the deck by getting a Flygon into play, using Accelgor to lock down attackers, and then using Dusknoir to KO threats or keep damage on board for later.

Also, how did your tournament day go?

I went 3-2-2 with it at NC States, beating Hydreigon, Blastoise, and RayBoar. Lost to Genesect and Plasma, and I tied a Genesect and Plasma.

Any outstanding plays you made?

Outstanding play, after being hit turn 1 by Plasma Gale, I was able to clean off the Lugia by using Enhanced Hammer and Trapinch’s “Smithereen Smash.” That was fun.

Do you see the game as “skillful” when compared to past formats or not?

I like where the format is currently. Sure it is the same big Basics run the world, and that is a little depressing, but you still see the same few people doing well at every tournament they play in. That has to account for a lot.

Interview with Bobby Phanphormma, Playing Weavile PLF/Exeggcute BCR


I also got a chance to ask Bobby Phanphormma some of the same questions. Bobby finished 10th this past weekend at NC States with Weavile PLF/Exeggcute PLF, a deck he has had decent success with this season. Here is what he had to say.

Me: What was your inspiration for the deck?

Bobby: I have been playing Weavile + Exeggcute since it first released last May in the Plasma Freeze set. I enjoyed the deck back then but I felt it didn’t have the speed to keep up with many other decks. Fast forward to August with the Plasma Blast release. The one card I wanted to utilized in the set was Jirachi-EX. Jirachi-EX gave me the speed I wanted by letting me search for Professor Juniper/Sycamore to discard the Exeggcutes much quicker potentially leading to turn one or turn two having four Exeggcutes in the discard pile.

Were you happy with your list? If not, what would you change about it?

I was very happy with my list. After Virginia Regionals I tested Genesect-EX and three Plasma Energies to speed up Prize exchange due to having so many games come down to ties. Other than those additions, I had Darkrai-EX for the Ability and as another attacker for Item lock matchups which I didn’t really play against at all. I could have also used Yveltal-EX but I haven’t tested with it and opted not to for the day.

What are your best matchups, worst matchups, and do you have any auto-losses?

With concerns to matchups I felt pretty even or favorable with the entire field. With prize exchange being one to two in most cases I felt that I can win out or keep really close. Probably the only deck of concern when it comes to auto-losses were Trevenant XY, Gothitelle LTR, or Dragonite PLF-based decks with Silver Mirror. The reason why I decided/wanted to add Darkrai-EX or Yveltal-EX was to swing those matchups in my favor.

Finally, can you provide a brief breakdown on how you play the deck?

Right, so I usually want to go first to ensure that I don’t get donked by Laser + Virbank if I do start Exeggcute (which is really slim when I play 17 Basics total + 4 Weaviles). I utilize any Level Balls, Ultra Balls, and Dowsing Machine in my starting hand to get as many Exeggcutes in the discard pile as I can. If needed I would save one of those Level Balls or Ultra Balls to search for Jirachi-EX and grab a Professor Juniper as I want to see as many cards as I can. Once that is done I would like to get at least two Sneasels on the field with one of them having an Energy attached to it, and a Sableye. From there I would aim for 1HKOs or ensuring I can with Sableye’s Junk Hunt attack. I would also have Genesect-EX on the field if needed.

Also, how did your tournament day go?

At NC States I went 5-2-0 placing 10th. I felt really good throughout the day, but once I had my first lost I could feel the crunch time to place in the Top 8 hovering over me. I won against a Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX/Absol/Hammers, Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX/Raichu, two Blastoise decks (standard with Keldeo-EX, Black Kyurem-EX, other being with Kyurem LTR and Dusknoir), and an Aromatisse deck.

What did you win/lose against?

I lost against two Darkrai-EX/Yveltal-EX, one without Garbodor, but both came down to the last game and the last couple of Prize cards.

Any outstanding plays you made?

Some great plays I did that day were pretty much back-to-back 180 damage starting turn two and consistently streaming Weaviles.


Of course, one of the things I look forward to the most when it comes to big tournaments is the surprises that players introduce to the tournament scene – decks that individuals pilot to a successful finish. I want to highlight a few more rogue decks below, complete with lists and commentary on why these decks succeeded (or why I think they should succeed).

Klinklang PLS/Aromatisse XY

By Michael Feller (1st Place 2014 Texas State Championship) via The Top Cut

Pokémon – 18

2 Klink DEX
2 Klang DEX
2 Klinklang PLS
2 Spritzee XY

2 Aromatisse XY
2 Skarmory-EX
2 Cobalion-EX
2 Registeel-EX
1 Virizion-EX
1 Darkrai-EX DEX

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Juniper

2 N
3 Colress
3 Shauna


3 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
2 Heavy Ball
4 Max Potion
2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Tool Scrapper
1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 12

4 Y
4 Rainbow
4 Prism

Michael Feller made an excellent observation here, noting that for only four cards (2-2 Aromatisse XY) he could revive Klinklang BLW. It apparently worked, landing him a 1st place finish at Texas States. Notably, he doubled up his efforts in Energy denial by using both Cobalion-EX and two copies of Enhanced Hammer to keep opponents at bay. Another important card here is Max Potion, which helps to heal off massive amounts of damage after moving Energy Cards around with Aromatisse XY.

With this deck, we see a few avenues of strategy. Against decks that feature Special Energy Cards, Cobalion-EX and Enhanced Hammers will do the trick. Against EX-heavy decks, Klinklang PLS will prove useful, allowing for otherwise mediocre cards like Skarmory-EX and Registeel-EX to shine.

Something else to note is that Michael did not play Tropical Beach at all. My best guess is that he does not own any. Otherwise, I would definitely find a place for it in this deck since there is very little one can do on the first turn.

Greninja XY/Kingdra PLF

By Dustin Zimmerman/Ryan Sabelhaus (2nd Place 2014 Tennessee State Championship)

Pokémon – 21

4 Froakie KSS

2 Frogadier KSS

4 Greninja XY
3 Horsea PLF

1 Seadra PLF

3 Kingdra PLF
1 Voltorb XY
1 Electrode PLF

2 Sigilyph LTR

Trainers – 29

3 Professor Sycamore

4 N
4 Skyla
2 Colress


4 Ultra Ball
3 Level Ball
4 Rare Candy
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Super Rod

1 Dowsing Machine


2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

10 W

I originally sat down and analyzed video streams from Tennessee States, hoping to capture card-for-card the list that Ryan Sabelhaus played. As I neared the end of this process, I compared it to Dustin Zimmerman’s list (provided in his excellent article) and realized something: they are the same. Unless it is a total coincidence, it looks like these two worked on this deck together.

No matter the case, I absolutely love this deck! Two Stage 2s capable of attacking in the same deck makes me want to melt, and the synergy here is uncanny. I am not completely sure about matchups, but I would imagine the deck struggling against speedy decks (such as Plasma variants). Watching the Top 2 match between Ryan Sabelhaus and Zachary Krekeler is evidence to this.

One thing I really like about this deck is that it requires a great deal of forethought. I would expect mediocre players to flop horribly with Greninja/Kingdra, mostly because the deck asks players to think turns ahead rather than turn-by-turn.

Cobalion-EX/Landorus-EX/Garbodor LTR/Zekrom LTR

By Andrew Zavala (1st Place 2014 Arizona State Championship)

Pokémon – 9

2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR
2 Landorus-EX
1 Cobalion-EX
1 Zekrom LTR
1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
2 Colress


4 Hypnotoxic Laser
3 Ultra Ball
2 “Switching Cards”

1 Dowsing Machine/Computer Search


6 “Pokémon Tools”


2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

4 Prism
4 Blend WLFM
3 Double Colorless

Open Spots – 9

So, this list was obviously shared by Andrew in the article he just wrote for SixPrizes. I am not going to comment much on it, mostly because Andrew already did that in his article.

What I do want to point out, however, is the fact that Andrew – whether he realizes it or not – is exercising exactly what I argued for in one of my most recent articles: creative leverage. In the past, “Big Basics” decks like this one were almost required to run upwards of four Switch-like cards, not just two. With some space saved here, a bit more space saved from running two Trubbish LTR rather than three, and a little shifting around cards, Andrew opened up enough space to add his own personal touch to the deck.

This leverage is incredibly important since it helps players address troublesome matchups. It also gives you the chance to put your own creative touch on the deck, which is important to many players.


pidgeot transport

Within the past few months, I have seen more positive change in the game than in years. Realize I do not say that lightly. While it is easy to be negative about the state of the game, think about how things look right now. We are currently seeing Basic, Stage 1, and Stage 2 Pokémon showing up at tournaments. Turn one losses have been eliminated for the most part because of recent rule changes. Other rule changes have allowed a decompression of the format, allowing cards like Aromatisse XY to shine.

All in all, things in the game are looking very healthy. It has been a long time since I have been able to say that about the Pokémon TCG. Hopefully, the card creators can maintain and build on this balance and not do anything stupid like print “Cosmic” Power on an M Pokémon-EX.

Our next set looks to keep up this spirit of bold Trainer cards (Flame Torch, Sacred Ash, Blacksmith), and unique Abilities (Milotic, Pyroar, Shiftry). It also ramps up the M Pokémon-EX mechanic by giving us more Charizard-EXs than ever before. The argument, of course, is that if Charizard-EX is worth playing (and it looks it will be with so much support), including 1-2 M Charizard-EXs makes total sense. Look for the set after this next one to finally make the M Pokémon-EX mechanic commonplace. I do not know about you, but I am thoroughly excited about the direction the game is taking!

I want to give a quick shout out to Nestor Luna, Johnny Rabus, and Bobby Phanphormma – thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and congratulations on solid performances at a difficult tournament with unique decks! You guys are part of the reason I made it to the tournament this weekend. I am always looking for interesting decks out there, and you did not disappoint!

As always, feel free to shoot me a message or let me know what you think on the forums. “Like” this article if you get a chance as well.

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.

Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!

Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

You are logged out. Register. Log in. Legacy discussion: ?