Hey there, everybody! It’s Daniel again, here to help give guidance for this weekend’s Regionals. With the format being healthier than it has been in years, there are many great decks to choose from, but in this article I will focus on a couple Stage 2 “setup” decks.
I recently earned 1st place at Georgia Regionals with Blastoise/Black Kyurem/Keldeo, facing Kyle Sabelhaus’ Emboar/Delphox/Rayquaza in the finals. This was a very big win, as it earned me my invite to the 2014 World Championships! But before I get into the details of the tournament, I’d like to talk about these two decks and a couple other contenders for this weekend. Let’s start with Blastoise…
Blastoise has been an incredible play for the last couple seasons, and during States this year, it really shined, due to the sudden drop in popularity of Virizion/Genesect. After this success, though, VirGen’s numbers increased yet again, and Blastoise seemed to be the worse play over RayBoar. Many have their opinions on the decks (Dylan Bryan mentioned his thoughts in his article), so I’ll list what I think are the pros and cons of Blastoise here.
- Blastoise can beat Trevenant thanks to Keldeo’s Rush In Ability.
- Black Kyurem-EX has 10 more HP than Rayquaza-EX, which makes a huge difference when facing Plasma.
- Black Kyurem BCR does an extra 10 damage with his second attack, allowing him to 1HKO Suicune PLB and Absol ALF, whereas Rayquaza LTR cannot.
- Blastoise has room for an extra tech, whether it be Hard Charm, Escape Rope, Jirachi-EX, or my favorite, Super Rod.
- Suicune PLB makes the RayBoar and other matchups favorable.
- Blastoise barely stands a chance against Virizion/Genesect/Roserade.
- Electrode only allows you to draw until you have 4 cards in hand, whereas Delphox nets up to 6.
- You lose an extra non-EX attacker by not playing Delphox.
- Blastoise has 10 less HP than Emboar which, surprisingly, makes a difference.
Putting all of this into consideration, in my opinion, Blastoise has better matchups all around, and it even has an incredible matchup against RayBoar with Suicune in the picture.
With that said, here is my winning Blastoise list from this past weekend:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
This list is pretty much your standard Blastoise list, but I’ll go into some of the counts and card choices:
Many people have found success in running 4 Squirtles, including me, until I realized Super Rod can give you that 4th Squirtle as well as 2 other cards, while only sacrificing some chance of getting Squirtle into play early, therefore the 4th Squirtle slot in this list has been devoted to Super Rod.
This legendary dog has seen a considerable amount of play during States… in Fairies decks. It took Brit Pybas winning with it for me to realize that the card is actually great in Blastoise too! From personal experience, Suicune was incredible against Kyle in Top 2, as it 1HKOs Delphox and can’t be Knocked Out by Shred. It also forces people playing Palkia/Snorlax/Safeguard to rethink their strategy, and it’s darn good against Fairies as well. This little guy was my saving grace in 8 of the 11 matches I played at Georgia Regionals, and he should be considered for every Blastoise list.
1-1 Electrode PLF
Electrode was overlooked during States for Jirachi-EX and an extra Professor’s Letter, but this Ball Pokémon is one of the best cards for N recovery, even seeing play in Squeaky Marking‘s Virizion/Genesect/Roserade deck!
Everybody hates when you need a Supporter and you’re hoping to draw into that clutch Professor Juniper but you only get a Skyla. Everybody except for Blastoise players, that is! Often I’ve found myself with a starting hand consisting of Skyla, Squirtle, Black Kyurem, or Beach, Skyla, Keldeo, etc. This sweetie allows for you to find the missing link for a potential turn 2 Black Ballista. 4 Skyla and 3 Juniper are counts I’d see myself using in just about any Stage 2 deck.
This card should be included in almost every deck, spare Fairies and Virizion/Genesect. Pokémon Catcher is a win condition no matter how you look at it. If you don’t like the coin flip, so what? Having the option of Catcher is worth sometimes flipping tails, because when you flip heads, it really pays off! (“Sometimes, you gotta leave it to dumb luck!” – Justin Sanchez on winning US Nationals 2011)
Super Rod has proven to be an incredible card in Blastoise. Need a second Baby BK for the mirror match? Or a 3rd Black Kyurem-EX for that scary Plasma game? Were you forced to Juniper away your Electrode on the 1st turn? Super Rod saves you in countless situations.
Overall, Blastoise is an incredible deck and a very smart choice for this weekend.
Next up, RayBoar. This deck is very consistent, even more so with Delphox. I feel that in the right field, this deck can dominate. But if it has a slow start, it has a bunch of trouble winning. I’ve seen the deck play incredible games and dominate, and I’ve seen it get destroyed because it took too long to set up and couldn’t do anything about multiple opposing attackers.
Here’s the list I would use:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
The deck is so similar to Blastoise. I’ll go into some of the choices again:
Kyle didn’t run Pignite in his great RayBoar list, but I find the card necessary to stand any kind of chance against Trevenant. The matchup is near impossible anyway, but with some luck it can be won.
Braixen is a great card to preserve your Rare Candies, since most games you’ll see only 2-3 of them and need each, but I found it better to leave this card out, since Pignite is the more important Stage 1 and running Braixen means one less spot devoted to techs.
You need to either sacrifice the third Rayquaza-EX to fit switch cards and Tool Scrapper, or run 3 Rayquaza to help beat certain decks and forfeit the matches versus Darkrai/Yveltal/Garbodor. Two is a good play also for anybody brave enough to run a Super Rod.
As you can see, Stage 2 decks as a whole should never be counted out, especially these two in particular. Other decent choices include Gothitelle, Klinklang, and even Dusknoir/Flygon, but I feel that those are all too tough to get working now.
Apart from Stage 2s, there are countless other decks in the format right now, and many crazy rogues. Two decks I feel that can perform well this weekend are Ninetales and TDK with Absol.
First off I’ll explain my personal favorite deck of the season, Ninetales.
Ninetales has a built-in Catcher as an Ability, with no coin flip. It is a strong Pokémon, able to hit for 180 damage, and it only gives your opponent 1 Prize card upon being Knocked Out. Everybody already knows that, though! The deck seems unstoppable, right? Wrong.
Throughout testing, I’ve found the deck is so bad if you don’t get the second Special Condition! There have been many Ninetales lists posted on 6P recently, so I’m going to skip the evolution of Ninetales and the different ways to play it. Instead I’m going to present my own list; the list I was about to run at Georgia Regionals:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 39
Energy – 5
Yeah, yeah, I know this is the weirdest list you’ve ever seen. But I’m about to explain it!
Musharna is a great card, and Munna is one of the ways to get an opposing Pokémon sleeping, but it’s way too hard to flip heads! I’ve found it better to sacrifice 1 Munna, as using being able to use two flips per turn takes up extra Bench space and is too hard to pull off.
1-1 Amoonguss NXD
This play is necessary to win most games, it seems. If you expect to flip enough heads to draw 6 Prizes in over course of 20+ tournament games, you have another thing coming. This tech allows you to guarantee two Special Conditions and 2 Prizes, and if used with Devolution Spray, maybe even 4 Prizes! I’ve never liked Ninetales more than when I teched in a 1-1 Amoonguss.
Iris is the weirdest card in the deck. Why would you need such a card when you’re hitting for 180? Because of VirGen, that’s why! This was my thought process: You do 100 damage to a Virizion or a Genesect, with a Silver Bangle attached to your Ninetales. Normally, this means that your opponent KOs 2 Ninetales as you KO 1 EX. Eventually, you’ll have 2 Prizes left to their 1 or 2. In this case, if you play Iris, you’re hitting either EX for 180 damage and sealing up the game. This play is very tough to pull off in most cases, but with Dowsing Machine and Jirachi-EX it shouldn’t be impossible, and it’s your only saving grace versus VirGen.
This is a card for Fairies, mostly. With this card, when your opponent benches Virizion-EX and moves a Prism to it, it’s untouchable… until you Hammer away the Energy and 1HKO the Virizion with ease. If they do it twice, you have Dowsing, so it shouldn’t be too tough to win.
There has been many a time when my Ninetales has passed out thanks to Long-Distance Hypnosis, or one Forewarn didn’t suffice, or when I just needed a 2nd Sporprise. This card has many different uses and while it may be a peculiar play, it can be great.
Another way to run this deck and beat Genesect or Plasma is -2 Keldeo-EX, -2 Float Stone, +2 Drifblim DRX, +2 Switch. The normal strategy is messed up a bit, but it really seals the deal against these two decks. Either build works, so pick your favorite!
TDK + Absol
Last, but not least, is TDK + Absol. This deck has a huge advantage due to it being near impossible to draw 6 Prizes against before it draws 6 against you! My Blastoise almost lost to it at Georgia Regionals, and my list is inspired by Ashon Haswell’s list.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 39
1 Life Dew
Energy – 10
“Daniel, what are you thinking?! Hard Charm in Plasma? LIFE DEW? Virbank? You’re crazy!” This list is slightly… off, but I think it’s a very good play. Do the math! Kyurem allows for easier Absol KOs, Deoxys KOs, etc. Here’s the breakdown:
The way I see it, you have a Life Dew and Muscle Bands for your opponent to Scrapper, so they wouldn’t dare Scrapper a Hard Charm. No matter what, they’re using the Scrapper on one Tool and leaving a different Tool on the field. Hard Charm messes up most people’s math as well:
- Yveltal cannot 1-shot Kyurem with Y Cyclone, therefore the bird must Evil Ball and not move an Energy to a Benched Pokémon to set up.
- Baby Black Kyurem can no longer 1-shot Absol, meaning you must use an EX to Knock it Out.
- Reshiram must be used to Knock Out an Absol, else a Delphox or Rayquaza-EX must be used and then return-KO’d with ease.
- Keldeo-EX and Delphox must add an extra Energy to Knock Out a Pokémon, allowing Deoxys-EX an extra 30 damage to dish out on your next turn.
- Virizion can’t 1HKO an Absol, nor can Genesect 1HKO Kyurem without Band + LaserBank.
- Lugia-EX can’t 1HKO an EX.
These are only some of the ways other decks’ math is messed up, which in turn forces a new strategy to be thought out mid-game, applying pressure big time.
1 Life Dew
Most games against Plasma, I’ve noticed everybody would ideally like to KO 3 EXs and win the game no problem, but with Absol and Kyurem, it’s very tough to do that, because of the 7-Prize game factor. With Life Dew, you can potentially force an 8-Prize game, which makes for a very impossible win in most cases. If your opponent does manage to Scrapper Life Dew, they’ve just burned a Scrapper and will be hard-pressed to remove that pesky Hard Charm or important Muscle Band. This can be game-changing.
LaserBank allows for easy KOs with Kyurem and Absol. Absol can normally be allowed 100-120 damage via your opponent’s full Bench, an extra 30 with Deoxys, and the last 20 with Muscle Band. You don’t always need Muscle Band if you have LaserBank, though! This allows for a Hard Charm or a Life Dew to be attached instead. And if your opponent only has 4 Pokémon on their Bench, you can simply attach the Muscle Band to guarantee 180.
There you have it, folks! Four incredible plays for this weekend, and four choices I’d be considering if I needed to take the final push to getting my invite. Speaking of that, I decided to include a small little report of Georgia Regionals, to share some very interesting games, and also because I’m excited to have won my first Regional Championship!
R1 vs. Sam Bennett (Weavile)
I didn’t want to see this deck at all for the entire tournament, but I crossed its path Round 1, and sadly piloted by a great Florida friend. Our games involved Sam getting horrible hands and getting donked Game 1.
WW (1-0 , 2-0)
R2 vs. Hector (Palkia/Sigilyph/Snorlax/Deoxys)
This deck was one I’ve never played a single game against, and the idea is brilliant against a deck like Blastoise. Had I not gotten 4-of 4 Pokémon Catcher heads, I would’ve been stuck in the Strafe/Safeguard lock. Also, G1 I started Suicune and Hector had nothing to combat it besides an Escape Rope, which was played after I was allowed to set up.
WW (2-0, 4-0)
R3 vs. Mike Choromanski (VirGen/Garbodor)
Mike’s deck was made simply to destroy Blastoise and to allow VirGen to stand a chance against RayBoar. Of course, it did what it should, and gave me my only loss of the tournament.
LL (2-1, 4-2)
R4 vs. ??? (Plasma)
I had two tough games against this opponent, whose name escapes me completely. I apologize, because this game was a fun one and really put me back into a better mood after getting completely destroyed by Mike. I came out on top in both games thanks to good Catcher flips and Suicune.
WW (3-1, 6-2)
R5 vs. ??? (Aromatisse/Big Basics)
I feel horrible for not writing these names down, as I can’t for the life of me remember these two opponents! They were both kind, and great players. This match involved me getting set up and my opponent not drawing anything both games, which was unfortunate. I feel that even had he drawn better, I still had many options to win these games though.
WW (4-1, 8-2)
R6 vs. Ashon Haswell (TDK/Absol)
This game should have resulted in a tie, as I took G1 thanks to a lucky Catcher flip, and Ashon began to destroy me G2. But on the 2nd turn of Game 2, I did bad math in my head and took a good 10 minutes explaining to Ashon how he drew an extra card when he truly hadn’t, but he searched it out of his deck. We weren’t allowed a time extension, as the judge did not realize how long this debate took. This mistake was horrible, but my brain was completely dead after the tough games I seemed to have throughout the day.
W (5-1, 9-2)
R7 vs. Casey Miller (Ninetales/Munna/Victini-EX)
Once I saw that Casey was the Ninetales player I was praying to avoid all day, I cringed. Luckily, Mike Canaves knocked me out of T8 of Florida Regionals, so I knew how to beat Ninetales and which mistakes not to make. Our games went like this: T2 Suicune, Casey has no response, T2 Ninetales, I have no response, then Casey drew poorly G3 and I somehow pulled out the win against the scariest opponent of the day.
WLW (6-1, 11-3)
R8 vs. Kyle Sabelhaus (RayBoar)
Kyle and I were doing the math before choosing to ID, and realized we’d be safe as long as our friend Jose Marerro beat his final opponent. Knowing how OP Jose is, we entrusted our spots in T8 to him, and decided to intentionally draw. Jose did what he needed to do, and helped us out!
ID (6-1-1, 11-3)
At the end of Day 1, Kyle and I saw the standings, realizing we had favorable matchups until T2, and slept good that night.
T8 vs. Kenton Anderson (Darkrai/Yveltal/Bouffalant)
Kenton and I played an incredible series. He took game one off of a Catcher flip and a Night Spear, which caused me to change my strategy: I must allow him to KO a Keldeo with 140+ damage or a Kyurem with 150+. This strategy worked out fine the next two games, but that wasn’t the worst of it.
In the final couple of turns, I attacked Kenton’s Sableye with my Suicune, expecting him to Catcher up my fully ready Black Kyurem-EX and KO it, bringing him down to 2 Prize cards and leaving me with Keldeo as my last option. When I put Energy on Suicune and Keldeo, I had 3 Water and 1 Lightning. I thought long and for some reason attached the Lightning to Keldeo over Suicune, only allowing myself 150 damage after SER’ing. Kenton did the Catcher play and I was forced to marvel as I was about to pass my turn, realizing I was 20 damage short, and had to hope Kenton got tails on his 2nd Catcher flip.
I thought hard and then counted my W Energies on the field and discard: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7… 8? Only 8? I had 1 Prize card left and about 6 cards in my deck, with a Juniper in hand. Was the ninth Water prized? I had only one way to find out: I played the Juniper, drew into the last Water and the last 20 damage, and moved on to T4, shaking and all. Kenton put up a great series.
LWW (7-1-1, 13-4)
T4 vs. Daniel Lopez (LoPlasma)
Daniel and I were upset that we had to play in T4, because either of us making finals meant that we earned our invite, but we swallowed hard and fought as friends, knowing we’d be happy with either result.
These games involved many Catcher flips. It ended when Daniel had a Lugia-EX just about set up, and I had a Catcher in hand. Heads, I win; tails, I lose. I flipped the coin, and… it falls on the floor. I grabbed it, anticipation and worry rising, do a successful flip, and get heads! This win removed all pressure from my body, as there was nothing I could lose from losing in T2 besides not earning the title of Regional Champion and not breaking the Florida 2nd place curse.
LWW (8-1-1, 15-5)
T2 vs. Kyle Sabelhaus (RayBoar)
Kyle and I predicted this conclusion the night before, and we were both happy with this matchup. In the end, Suicune was my MVP. We both got Catcher heads on Blastoise and Emboar, and we had an interesting series. Kyle took a very long time to set up though, which is probably the main reason for my victory.
WW (9-1-1, 17-5)
That’s how I earned 1st place at Georgia Regionals!
I hope everybody found this article helpful, and enjoyed the mini report. There were many crazy decks in Georgia Regionals, so I expect to see even more of a healthy format this weekend. Good luck to all, and let’s see a few more invites!