As the Format Turns

Final Lists of NXD-XY, Flashfire Set Review, and Updated Decks

Hello everyone! After not being scheduled to write for March, I’m back just in time for the release of the new set (Flashfire) featuring everyone’s favorite fire dragon thing (Charizard). Let me also point out that Flashfire is the first pretty awesome name for an expansion we’ve had in awhile! I’m sure it is an outlier though and not an emerging trend and we’ll be back to more Boundaries Crossed and Legendary Treasures soon enough.

Anyway, I feel like I only get scheduled to write right as expansions are about to enter the metagame, so we’ll be approaching things in a similar fashion as we did last time. We’ll need to evaluate where things stand leaving Spring Regionals, apply updates, and then introduce any new archetypes Flashfire brings to the party.


charizard badge montagepokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
Badge montage!

But first I want to shamelessly mention two things. First and foremost, I want to congratulate my friend and playtesting partner Kevin Baxter for a great performance at States and Regionals, and most importantly, for securing his Worlds invite! After missing it last year by what I believe was 10 Championship Points, and catching an extremely rough wave of bad variance at the start of the 2013-2014 season, it is great to see him lock his invite up before Nationals. He more or less stuck with Rayboar for States and Regionals, and managed to place in the Top 8 of Wisconsin Regionals with a sparsely tested Zoroark brew once he had already secured 500 Points the prior weekend.

Second, and primarily because Adam took a chance to throw in a nice subtle jab advertising my first article back with a little tidbit about coming back after not cutting it in Magic, I wanted to tell everyone that two weekends ago, I won my first Pro Tour Qualifier, and am now qualified for the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour and will be attending Pro Tour: Portland in August, right before Worlds. For people unfamiliar with Magic, the Pro Tour is more or less the equivalent of Worlds and a Pro Tour Qualifier is more or less a Gym Challenge from the old 2004-2006 tournament structure, where 100-250 people attend and 1st place gets their Pro Tour invite. I fully expect to get thoroughly destroyed in Portland, but I am really looking forward to it, and to be competing for up to $40,000. (We’ll see how well I run, right?)


Now, with all that out of the way, let’s reel it back in and discuss some Pokémon. We’ve just finished up Spring Regionals and have a pretty established and predictable metagame. (Well, we still have Ontario to go, but we’ve been left with a pretty defined metagame thus far, and unless something very unexpected happens next weekend, we have more than enough information to work with.)

Table of Contents

Where We Stand: The End of NXD-XY

dark city sign

Dark Decks

These types of decks break down into a few different categories, but they share enough overlap that it’s worth addressing them at once. They all center around Yveltal-EX, the big powerhouse to come out of XY, stepping in to relieve Darkrai of its duties as the core attacker to abuse Sableye and Dark Patch.

The range of these decks is fairly wide though. Some builds focus on being extremely aggressive, running no Garbodor, and varying degrees of Bouffalant now that Yveltal brought 3-4 copies of Double Colorless Energy into the lists. Some lists choose to go the more controlling and disruptive route and embrace the full Garbodor package that was really more or less standard for the old Darkrai/Garbodor builds. Finally, you have some lists which lean toward aggressiveness and splash a thinner Garbodor line, aiming to use it to shore up a few weaker matches while not making it a consistent focus of the deck.

Here are some sample stock lists of all three builds:

List: Aggro Yveltal

Pokémon – 11

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

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Random Receiver
2 Bicycle

 

4 Dark Patch
3 Ultra Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Muscle Band
2 Energy Switch
2 Professor’s Letter

1 Escape Rope

1 Computer Search

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser
2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

List: Yveltal/Garbodor

Pokémon – 12

3 Yveltal-EX
1 Darkrai-EX
2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR
3 Sableye DEX
1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Random Receiver
2 Bicycle

 

3 Ultra Ball

3 Dark Patch
3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Muscle Band

2 Enhanced Hammer
2 Float Stone
1 Escape Rope

1 Computer Search

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

List: Hybrid Yveltal

Pokémon – 11

2 Yveltal-EX
1 Darkrai-EX
3 Bouffalant DRX
2 Yveltal XY
1 Absol PLF
1 Trubbish LTR
1 Garbodor LTR

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Skyla
3 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball

3 Dark Patch

2 Energy Switch
2 Muscle Band
2 Silver Bangle
2 Pokémon Catcher

2 Professor’s Letter
1 Float Stone
1 Switch

1 Computer Search

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

7 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

Now, I personally prefer the hybrid build, as I love the pressure and potential starts being offered by more aggressive lists. I’m not entirely sold on the more lock-based build being able to control all of the tier one lists reliably. My logic is that in general, and in terms of just the raw power of what the decks are doing, I prefer the aggressive Dark builds.

The problem is, I really feel like Yveltal is lacking against Blastoise and Rayboar, and that it also struggles in the face of the Fairy Toolbox decks that are growing in popularity. (Admittedly, these decks seem to vary in popularity pretty heavily from region to region.)

The source of the issues with Blastoise stem from Bouffalant’s inability to OHKO a Black Kyurem-EX which makes any sort of real favorable exchange difficult to force. It is also why in my personal list I run a few Silver Bangle, to reach the 180 damage mark.

Rayboar would be fairly easy to beat, except Delphox throws a huge wrench in the plans, giving them a great non-EX attacker that also can only really be answered by Yveltal-EX, which they then get to light up. It also takes the “N them and pray” option off the table, which while not exactly your plan A, still does add a reasonable percentage of wins in the long run.

The Fairy decks cut off your ability to use Hypnotoxic Laser, while also spamming Max Potions. You can’t get one-hit kills outside of a massive Yveltal-EX, and there’s no way you get three EX kills off of that, so you get soft-locked out of the game fairly often.

I’m not saying you can’t win these matchups, but they’re difficult and certainly nowhere near 50-50 or better. Garbodor brings Laser back into the fold, giving you one-hit kills. Even at a 1-1 line, since it is being used proactively and doesn’t require a maintained lock to score you kills, it works absolute wonders in the matchup. It also does help against Virizion/Genesect for the same reasons. Genesect is much better at answering Garbodor, but that matchup is also far better off pre-Garbodor for you anyway.

As for the Blastoise and Rayboar matchups, they are close. Even with Black Kyurem-EX’s 180 HP, and Delphox throwing a wrench in otherwise favorable exchanges, you usually wind up a turn behind when you lose, and most games are competitive. Only after a fairly large sample size of games, you come up on the losing end more often than not. Unlike the dedicated Garbodor lock decks where you really rely on the card being a game-long nuisance and your primary solution to the matchup, you instead are just looking at it to tip you over the edge. If you buy a turn or two, or force them to allocate resources or switch up their gameplan to accommodate it, you often turn a loss into a win.


garbodor plasma freeze plf 119 official
Keep in mind diminishing returns.

Now, I want to address something with the thin 1-1 splash line like this. I also feel like it applies to other unstable, less reliable tech inclusions in lists in general. If you play the list, you will struggle to get the Garbodor out. You will prize pieces of it. Trubbish will get sniped. You won’t draw it until late into the game. I’m not denying that. Those issues come up enough. And they stand out. Every aggravating kink in your game stemming from the inconsistency of it sticks out like a sore thumb, and can be very deterring from accepting the approach as favorable.

Yet the numbers do not lie. In the long run, it works often and well enough to take the associated matchups from unfavorable to favorable by a satisfactory degree. It isn’t a pretty answer, but there really aren’t better alternatives that attack all the necessary angles. Going to a 2-2 line ends up being overkill as well. You really don’t have the cards to cut for it, you hinder your other matchups, and the number of games you actually win due to that increase end up being smaller than you’d at first think. There are diminishing returns to thickening the line when your demands on the line are as minimal as this deck’s are in the right matchups.

I don’t plan on going as in-depth over the other builds as I did over the hybrid approach. Why? Well, first off, the others have been covered in depth by plenty of writers and are fairly straightforward. Second, I’d rather discuss the build that I not only personally feel is the ideal one (especially since it is less prevalent) but it is also the one I have by far the most experience with. When there is a deck I have done a ton of testing with, I’d rather offer my insight into it in depth than to re-cover what has already been said about traditional stock lists.

People who discuss deck ideas with me know I get fairly firmly entrenched in certain builds and lists that I feel are actually just better than others, and I think I offer more promoting that opinion (even if it is a bit more unorthodox) than going through a paint by numbers “these decks are played and do well and are all even” approach just to not offend players who may disagree with my leanings. I’ve always had my preferences.

(In 2010-2011, don’t even get me started on Vilegar; the deck was popular and successful, but man did I really dislike that deck and wouldn’t be caught dead playing it.)

Anyone can brush over the main archetypes in a format. I’d rather be open and honest about what I think are the better choices, while still not neglecting the rest of the decks, because you still need to be conscious of what will be played.

Rayboar, Blastoise

I lump these two decks together for the fairly obvious reason that they play generally the same. Blastoise and Emboar dump Energy into play for Black Kyurem-EX and Rayquaza-EX to one-shot things every turn. They have their own quirks and strengths over each other, but in general they play out very similarly and attack other decks in the same manner.

To start with, Rayboar was the stronger deck. With Catcher’s errata, Blastoise really found itself struggling against Genesect decks, whereas Rayboar abused it. Blastoise had been playing cards like Jirachi-EX and Electrode PLF for consistency and to fight against N, and Rayboar got the brand new Delphox to make it a well-oiled machine. In my previous article, I more or less glossed over Blastoise, announcing Rayboar as the superior build of the approach. I actually still feel that way, but overlooked a few of the reasons why Blastoise surged back in popularity during the middle of States.

180 HP on Black Kyurem-EX is extremely important. This makes it out of range for one-shots from most Bouffalants. It makes it very difficult for Lugia-EX to KO. (They’d need all 4 Deoxys in play.) The deck doesn’t have to run Switch cards due to Keldeo-EX, and also doesn’t run a 2nd Stage 2 line so it can fit both Pokémon Catcher and Tool Scrapper, so you wind up with a better matchup against Garbodor decks. also does do a fairly good job of just smoothing the deck over in terms of how it plays as well. Genesect had also seen a steep decline to begin with, so Rayboar had less to prey upon, and Blastoise had less to worry about.

Blastoise went on to be one of the best performing decks during States, and helped to usher in a return of Genesect decks to the format. Had Blastoise not overtaken Rayboar as the go to choice between the two, I find it unlikely that Genesect would have seen the surge in success. Despite all of this, I know Kevin was adamant about sticking to Rayboar over Blastoise, citing he really felt that Delphox added so much to the deck in terms of consistency and as a secondary attacker that the other slight edges weren’t worth chasing, and it didn’t take too much to make me agree with that, especially as Plasma tapered off in terms of success.

I always love playing the most powerful deck in any format, and in terms of raw power and the best A game when it works smoothly, that deck is Rayboar. Delphox offers enough to tip it over the edge against Blastoise. The trends in the metagame that made Blastoise a better call for a period I feel have declined, and I even think Rayboar may have been the right play that entire time anyway. There, we have a second controversial opinion in the article, even if it isn’t too out of left field.

List: Rayboar

Pokémon – 15

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

Trainers – 35

2 Professor Juniper

4 N
4 Skyla
2 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
4 Rare Candy
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
2 Professor’s Letter

2 Pokémon Catcher

1 Switch
1 Escape Rope

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

8 Fire
2 Lightning

List: Blastoise

Pokémon – 15

3 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR

3 Black Kyurem-EX PLS
2 Keldeo-EX
1 Black Kyurem BCR
1 Voltorb PLF
1 Electrode PLF
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 35

2 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla
2 Colress

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
1 Heavy Ball
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
4 Rare Candy

2 Professor’s Letter

2 Tool Scrapper
2 Pokémon Catcher

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

8 Water
2 Lightning

Virizion/Genesect

After struggling a bit at first, this deck reared its head back up in the metagame again and had some of the most success during Spring Regionals. There are a few builds of the deck being played, but the most prominent seems to be the build to stem from the East Coast, using Roserade in the list. Now, I actually really dislike this build, and will go into that in a moment, but it is impossible to ignore success, mainly because success leads to popularity, and that is the list that should be the go to when figuring out how to play against the archetype.

We’ve also seen success from Virizion/Genesect/Drifblim, a nice return to form for the deck’s initial approach going back to Henry Prior’s deck at the Klaczynski Open. We also saw success from a Virizion/Genesect/Ho-Oh/toolbox deck in the Northwest, which I know so little about that I don’t even feel comfortable discussing the pros and cons of the deck. Finally there was a Virizion/Genesect/Raichu deck that won a Regionals, and took second at another.

List: Virizion/Genesect/Roserade

Pokémon – 11

4 Virizion-EX
3 Genesect-EX
2 Roselia DRX 12
2 Roserade DRX 15

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
2 Colress
2 Shadow Triad

 

2 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
3 Muscle Band
3 Energy Switch
2 Enhanced Hammer
1 Super Rod
1 Max Potion
1 Tool Scrapper
1 G Booster

 

3 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 14

10 Grass
4 Plasma

Let me address why I dislike this approach. I simply feel that Roserade is overkill, and completely unnecessary. The deck has a few strengths to it that I want to discuss first though.

The deck accepts the fact you really need to be doing Emerald Slash on the second turn of the game. The deck foregoes using Lasers and Virbanks and embraces Skyarrow Bridge as its Stadium card to make it easier to retreat into Virizion by the second turn, and to allow Virizion to retreat while keeping Energy on it to Energy Switch off of it latter. This is a necessary improvement, especially with Energy Switch’s return.

The higher Energy Switch count is nice to abuse Skyarrow, and Muscle Band really just makes Virizion more of a threat, and also ramps up the damage done by Megalo Cannon. The problem is I actually feel like this build doesn’t capitalize enough on Muscle Band. I’ll touch more on that in a moment.

The idea behind Roserade, outside of just the natural consistency it provides, is that it gives the deck a non-Supporter way to search out G Booster, or Shadow Triad to get G Booster back, so that you can really apply pressure with chained G Boosters.

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I have a problem with this for a few reasons. First, the deck faces two big issues. One, is you really need to Emerald Slash on turn two. Two, and this is fairly hand in hand with the first issue really, and that is the deck can get Energy-starved pretty easily. G Booster is extremely powerful, but purges you of Energy, amplifying the biggest weakness of the deck. The games you had access to enough Energy to chain G Boosters were games you were likely to win anyway.

I really do feel this is a textbook example of a “win more” scenario. The really close games, and the ones you were losing, you either couldn’t chain G Boosters (not due to lack of access) or it was just an inappropriate approach (again, regardless of access). Chaining G Boosters works primarily in games where your deck does what it wanted anyway. If you already have the T2 Emerald Slash, and an excess of Energy to make G Boosters amazing, I don’t think you were losing too many of those games anyway. The plays look extremely impressive and you win by massive margins and they stand out, but I feel you would win a vast majority of those games by smaller, less impressive margins anyway.

What the emphasis on G Booster does not do anything to help is a majority of your losses, which see you being choked on Energy due to early KOs, or missing Emerald Slash. (Or well, uh, Fire types.) There are a lot of decks that are also just build to play the haymaker game. A lot of decks accept the fact that they will be getting one-hit killed every turn by an EX.

Roserade does help smooth the deck over in regards to consistency, which in turn should help increase the odds of a turn 2 Emerald Slash. The problem is, I don’t think the percentage by which it does this justifies devoting 4 spots to the plant. Consistency cards offer extreme diminishing returns past a certain point. They always look functional and impressive and never fizzle or aren’t useful by nature, but they come with an invisible opportunity cost of options and other inclusions in the deck. They’ll never be dead cards or frustrating, but they always come with a cost, a cost which I feel is too steep for the edge Roserade tries to offer in the deck.

(This isn’t hate on Roserade: I actually love this card. Martin Moreno championed the card in his Big Basics builds for months. The problem is, I feel one of the appeals of Genesect is how low maintenance the deck is. Your goal is turn two Virizion with a Genesect on the Bench. This is fairly easy to pull off. Roserade fundamentally works better in decks with high demand and complexity for what it wants in turns, which Genesect is not. The only trait the deck has that falls under that category is G Booster, but I pointed out my problems with that above. I also like Roserade in decks where the “nut draw” is extremely strong. I remember the card being used alongside Empoleon, so you could explode on turn two with Rare Candies. Genesect’s “nut draw” is… well, still turn two Emerald Slash. The ceiling is fairly low on the complexity and strength of plays Roserade offers.)

Two of my other complaints with the build are the lack of Colress Machine and Professor’s Letter. Simply swapping the 10th Grass for a Letter seems very obvious. The lack of a single Colress Machine seems wrong to me too. If you accept that Roserade is in the deck to strengthen your G Booster game, I don’t see how you do not include Colress Machine. It gives you a free Energy drop toward the discards, or toward powering your attacks. The card can be easily searched up, and even Triad’ed back for multiple uses, so one single copy gives the deck a huge berth of options and play. The card goes hand in hand with the G Booster emphasis of the build.

This is a perfect example of opportunity cost. If fitting Roserade means cutting a card I feel is absolutely essential as a one-of from the deck, something has to give. I want cards that address the underlying weaknesses of the deck, not that strengthen the decks strengths.

Now don’t get me wrong. The deck is clearly powerful and it works. I don’t mean this as a personal attack on anyone who played the deck, or had a hand in building it. I do know that I’ve had a number of discussions regarding the build with players and it has led me to really analyze it and develop strong opinions, which I felt were worth discussing because they really attack the core of deck construction and theory.

The build is more or less an update of the same deck prior to XY’s release, and I feel like it isn’t being nearly ambitious enough with what the archetype can do now. Here is something I had been fooling around with regarding the archetype.

List: Virizion/Genesect/Deoxys

Pokémon – 13

4 Virizion-EX
3 Genesect-EX
4 Deoxys-EX
1 Lugia-EX
1 Bouffalant DRX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
2 Colress

 

4 Muscle Band

3 Ultra Ball

2 Energy Switch
2 Switch
1 Escape Rope

1 Colress Machine

1 Professor’s Letter
1 Super Rod

1 Scramble Switch

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Grass

4 Plasma

This build takes what Muscle Band offers, throws traditional Genesect builds right out the window, and runs with it. You want to G Booster every turn for OHKOs? Why not just Megalo Cannon every turn for OHKOs. 100, plus 20 from Muscle Band, plus Lasers, and Deoxys let you max at 190. You don’t even need to keep hitting Lasers once you start spreading 20s. You don’t have to waste Energy attachments to do this either. You don’t have to run G Booster at all, giving you access to other ACE SPECs. It also lets you free up two spots by not having to run Shadow Triad. I get that Shadow Triad is necessary to re-use G Booster, but the card is very clunky and awkward and not playing it is a welcome relief.

Let’s look at a few other major differences. First off, we run 4 Deoxys, 1 Lugia, and 1 Bouffalant, all of which possess a 2 Retreat Cost. We also want to run Lasers, and thus need Virbank as our Stadium. This pushes Skyarrow right on out. I admitted earlier how strong the card was in the deck, but then it became pretty clear that the card functioned as a Switch more often than not anyway. Either it got countered, or repeated uses didn’t end up being super impactful.

In the Skyarrow/Roserade build, Skyarrow is clearly better than running 3 Switches, but the margin by which it is better is low. The switch-over hasn’t proven terribly detrimental, and is downright necessary now that we run 2 Retreat Cost Basics. You just want to get Virizion active turn two mainly. You lose a few spots where you retreat off an Energy, but the addition of Colress Machine and the inclusion of Scramble Switch, alongside the lack of G Booster discards more than compensates.

scramble switch
Few opponents will see it coming.

Ah yes. Scramble Switch. Well, we freed up our ACE SPEC spot. Scramble Switch is actually incredible in this deck. At the very least, you can turn a Virizion into a clean Genesect out of nowhere if a deck is able to pick off a Benched Genesect post-Emerald Slash. It can be “super Energy Switch.” It’s also a 4th switch card. It also does a ton to enable a turn 2 Emerald Slash. If somehow you fail to bench and attach to a Virizion on the first turn, it’s your Switch + Energy Switch in one easily Skyla’d for card, making even the clunkiest starts into smooth Emerald Slashes.

Scramble Switch also lets you abuse Lugia-EX in a shell already running 4 Deoxys-EX and 4 Muscle Band. You no longer have to Emerald Slash to a Lugia and hope it gets to work out well. You get the same shell (admittedly minus DCE) that Plasma gets to abuse Lugia now that you have Scramble Switch. I’ll be honest: I’d much rather be using a Virizion/Genesect deck than using Thundurus and Snorlax as the support for my Lugia gameplan. And this applies for now at least, but not a single player is ever going to put you on Scramble Switching into a Lugia in a Genesect match.

I hate to write it off as a footnote, but Bouffalant is your non-EX attacker, and another solid Scramble Switch target that can max at 170 damage against an EX under ideal circumstances that slides seamlessly into the shell.

The deck maintains or increases some of the more important counts from the traditional Genesect build as well. You have 4 Switching cards and 3 Energy Switching cards. You admittedly lose one Energy card overall, and I’d love to fit a Psychic Energy in to enable Deoxys, but space is fairly tight.

One of the major reasons why Laser was initially cut from Genesect builds was how dead it was in the mirror match. Well, with the Deoxys plan, you end up chaining one-shots with Megalo Cannon even without Laser due to the Megalo spread. You also have the ability to get one-shots with Lugia, which is a great weapon Plasma always used in the matchup. One interesting inclusion if you wanted to get cute for the matchup (I don’t condone actually doing it, but I thought of it while brainstorming) would be to include Spiritomb LTR which blocks ACE SPECs. You are equipped to score natural OHKOs in the matchup as it progresses, and if you lock them off G Booster, they are never going to be able to keep up.


Now, I’m not even saying that list is perfect. I’m sure a few numbers are a bit off. Maybe it needs the one Tool Scrapper. Maybe one Shadow Triad is correct just as a 5th Plasma Energy. Maybe one Ultra Ball should be a Plasma Ball. I may be able to get away with 3 Deoxys. I just feel like, at the very least, that this take looks at Genesect as a deck, and rather than just jamming a few XY cards into the deck to upgrade old lists, it tries to really milk the new cards to their full potential. It also showcases really what you can do with the space you are allocating to the Roserade line. Obviously this is an extreme example since you get to trim G Booster and both Triads, but it’s jamming a whole ton of cards into the deck.

And no, this still doesn’t come close to beating Rayboar. But you get the strengths of a Virizion/Genesect build, while also getting the most appealing part of the Plasma decks (strong Lugia plays). I’d also like to say that one of Sami Sekkoum’s friends picked up a much worse list of this that I had before and piloted it to a Top 4 placement at UK Regionals, so the deck at least has some legs to it.

Plasma

Plasma is a deck that had to get entirely reworked after the rules changes with XY. The list has embraced focusing more on Lugia-EX and Snorlax and a Double Colorless Energy-focused build. Since then, players have taken to including Kyurem again as a support attacker, and some use Absol as well. I am personally a fan of both of these inclusions as it prevents the deck from having so few gameplans that the deck is easy to play around.

Genesect-EX is just in the deck for Red Signal as the deck’s Pokémon Catcher.

Builds had taken to running Palkia-EX since with multiple Deoxys-EX and Muscle Band as a way to deal with Rayquaza-EX and Black Kyurem-EX. Unfortunately, especially now that those decks have added Pokémon Catchers in their stock lists, Palkia has been performing very underwhelmingly. I don’t run it anymore. If you want to include it in your build, that is fine; it should come at the cost of one of the non-EX attacker Pokémon. I don’t think you can trim any of the EXs below where they are now.

Plasma has put a lot of players into the Top 8s of their States and Regionals, but it hasn’t really placed up a lot of wins. I think the deck will remain popular, and players who love the deck are very loyal to it. (Two players who have qualified for Worlds, Evan Baker and Justin Sanchez, pretty much play the deck exclusively.) I feel like the deck has no particularly great matchups and too many suspect ones to be a fantastic choice, but it has a ton of “play” to it. If you really know the deck inside and out, you can outplay people pretty well.

I respect the deck enough to keep it as one of the top decks, but I do feel it is slowly slipping closer to the bottom end of tier 1 decks.

List: Deoxys/Thundurus/Lugia

Pokémon – 12

4 Deoxys-EX
2 Thundurus-EX PLF
2 Lugia-EX
1 Snorlax PLS
1 Genesect-EX
1 Kyurem PLF
1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

2 Skyla
4 Colress

2 Shadow Triad

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Team Plasma Ball

3 Switch
1 Escape Rope
3 Muscle Band
3 Colress Machine
2 Tool Scrapper

1 Max Potion

1 Scramble Switch

Energy – 14

4 Plasma
4 Prism
4 Double Colorless
2 Lightning

Fairy Toolbox

Fairy Toolbox is another deck that sprung up from the XY expansion. I started my initial testing trying to keep the deck using basic Fairy Energy to try and use non-EX Xerneas, but it wasn’t strong enough. The deck was just too underwhelming.

Others took it a different direction, accepting that it would use all non-basic Energy to power up a wide variety of attackers. It cuts all of the Fairy cards besides Aromatisse, and uses a bunch of cheap EX attackers, and uses Max Potion to deny its opponent any Prizes. It plays very similarly to the old Hydreigon decks in that regard.

The problem the deck has is that it has very little game against Blastoise and Rayboar. It is reasonable everywhere else, but the atrocious matchup against the OHKO decks has really left me a bit sour on it. Now, this is again accepting my own personal bias. As someone who really likes the OHKO decks, I’m going to be a bit skeptical of a deck that is very poor against what I consider to be some of the best decks in the format.

List: Fairies/Big Basics

Pokémon – 16

3 Spritzee XY
2 Aromatisse XY
2 Genesect-EX
2 Landorus-EX
2 Yveltal-EX
1 Thundurus-EX PLF
1 Cobalion-EX
1 Virizion-EX
1 Jirachi-EX
1 Sigilyph LTR

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Colress
3 Shauna

 

3 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball

3 Muscle Band
3 Max Potion
1 Switch
1 Tool Scrapper

1 G Booster

 

3 Fairy Garden

Energy – 12

4 Prism
4 Rainbow
4 Plasma

Credit to Ryan Sabelhaus for the list as it is the one he used during States. I usually try to use my own lists for decks, but I’ve never really done a lot of testing with or against this deck, as it doesn’t really see a whole lot of play locally. This is a deck that has access to just so many options that I highly doubt any two lists end up being that similar. I absolutely trust Ryan’s judgment on builds and he has played and tested this deck, but my gut wants to run two Thundurus-EX. I don’t think it is an accident that he cut it down to one though.

Fringe Decks

Besides the decks above which really make up the bulk of the format, I’ve seen a few other decks that have done well enough to warrant discussion.

Tool Drop

trubbish plasma storm pls 65 official
R.I.P. 2013-2014

Tool Drop is an annoying deck, and extremely gimmicky, but it isn’t bad. It can’t really beat Garbodor ever, but it does surprisingly well against decks that rely on Pokémon-EX to win the game as it can score a lot of one-hit KOs. A Tool Drop deck won Ohio States earlier this year, so the deck is at least fairly competitive. I think a metagame has to be particularly friendly to the deck, and you still need to run well for it to work enough.

Trevenant

I went over this deck in great detail in my last article, and it wound up just not being able to beat all of the necessary archetypes reliably. During States, there was a period where Rayboar had repressed the Genesect presence and also decreased the play of Plasma a bit, and Trevenant was a pretty good metagame call. I know it won at least one States, and put up some other pretty good results.

By the time the metagame stabilized, the deck was weeded back out of the core metagame, but its success did go to show that under the right circumstances that the deck’s raw power and disruption was enough to let it take down events.

Zoroark

I mentioned before how Kevin piloted a Zoroark deck to a Top 8 finish at Wisconsin Regionals. (Side note: The Top 8 from that event is one of the most impressive cuts I’ve seen in a Pokémon event in a very long time. The field there was extremely strong.) Admittedly this was Kevin wanting to try something new and fun, but it got him into cut.

Zoroark had always been a pet card of mine. Now that we have more and better Darkness Basics to use alongside Zoroark, the deck has a lot more options. Yveltal-EX being able to do 90 and transfer a DCE onto a Zoroark is really powerful. I’m sure the list was not finely tuned and could be improved with more work. I think having access to such powerful non-EX attackers alongside Yveltal-EX is something worth exploring. The biggest problems the deck has always faced is fitting everything into it and the fact that you can’t run non-Dark Pokémon to help counter things.

For those curious, this is the list Kevin used for the event:

Pokémon – 14

4 Zorua LTR
3 Zoroark LTR
2 Yveltal-EX
2 Darkrai-EX
2 Sableye DEX
1 Yveltal XY

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Colress
3 Random Receiver

 

3 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball

4 Dark Patch
2 Muscle Band
2 Silver Bangle
2 Escape Rope
1 Professor’s Letter

1 Computer Search

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

8 Darkness
3 Double Colorless

Flashfire Set Review

charizard mess partypokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com

Now that we’ve looked at the decks left standing at the end of Spring Regionals, let’s look ahead to Flashfire! I’ll be doing the same thing I did last set, where I’ll only be commenting on cards which either show potential or may be mistakenly construed to do so. (So don’t expect to see me recapping Caterpies.)

Also, the set has not been released, or even officially spoiled by the time I am writing this. I have been using the translations provided by PokéBeach for the information on the cards. Some of the text on Walrein is still missing, but I do not see that card being good anyway. In addition, some of the cards may be incorrectly translated, but PokéBeach is usually pretty good at getting things right. Finally, and this is the big issue, some of the attack, Ability, and Trainer names may change by the time they are given their English release. There isn’t too much I can do to mitigate this issue, and I apologize for any inconvenience this may lead to.

Shiftry // Translation

It is hard to ever discount a Pokémon which offers draw power as an Ability. Shiftry has Leaf Draw, letting you dump a Grass Energy to draw 3 cards. This is pretty good, but the decks that run Grass Energy don’t have the room needed to support a Stage 2 Pokémon.

It has a solid attack, Frenzy Dance, doing 20 damage for each Benched Pokémon (of both players!) for GCC. Due to DCE, this cost is reasonable, and it packs a huge punch. Unfortunately, it isn’t too hard for an opponent to mitigate its strength, and it seems like a lot of investment to include in a deck if it isn’t the focus.

If you are aiming to run it as a tech for draw power, it is too type specific and likely just worse than Delphox, Electrode, and even Empoleon. The Ability is really nice, but nothing currently printed really synergizes with it. The attack is good, but fickle, and again, there is really no deck out there to that would want to run this card and cover its shortcomings.

In terms of raw potential and power, this card is actually really nice. But my first impression is it won’t find a home and isn’t quite strong enough to build its own. Still, it is a card to look out for if other cards get printed that may pair well with it.

Pyroar // Translation

Now this guy is exciting! Its Ability, Intimidating Mane, prevents all damage dealt to it by Basic Pokémon. There are plenty of decks that only run Basic Pokémon too. You can pair this card with Archeops DEX to lock decks off of their Evolutions as well. Against decks like Blastoise and Rayboar it’s a race between Archeops and their Stage 2, but all-Basic decks aiming to run a 1-1 Evolution line as their “Pyroar counter” should very rarely get their counter out first.

You can also run Golurk DRX to devolve their Pokémon, even if it is a bit of a convoluted answer. Beyond that, you can get into these awkward wars where your opponent tries to kill your Archeops while you try to replace them.

The attack is also good. With Muscle Band, you should be able to routinely two-shot Pokémon, which is fine when a lot of decks are so crippled on their own gameplan.

I actually fully expect Pyroar to be a pretty big roleplayer coming up. Even if you do not build a dedicated lock deck around it, the card is huge pain for a lot of decks to play into, and its attack is splashable, and just a really powerful counter to Genesect (who could otherwise G Booster the poor lion) just due to typing.

Milotic // Translation

Electrode e non-EX here we come! I’d say this Pokémon is all about Energy Grace, but I guess Waterfall doing 60 for WCC leaves it having fringe type advantage attacking purposes. But let’s be serious: This Pokémon is all about Energy Grace, letting you KO it to grab 3 basic Energy from the discard and put them on a non-EX Pokémon.

The non-EX clause is limiting, but a Stage 1 form of Energy acceleration is always worth looking at. The most apparent use would be to play it in a deck like Hydreigon or Fairies where you can quickly move the Energy over to an EX attacker. Both of those decks would love a way to give themselves a burst of Energy attachments, and the way they play such a Prize denial gameplan with a Max Potion soft lock makes the Prize you give up a reasonable writeoff.

It does limit how those decks would be built if you ran it because it only grabs basic Energy, so the full-fledged toolbox approach would need reeled in, but the card seems quite playable to me. I can see it not being good, but it’s alluring enough to test at the very least.

Luvdisc // Translation

Ok, this is actually just an aside on how creepy the design of this card is. The translation for its attack “Heart Wink” lets you flip a coin, and if heads, the defending player doesn’t get to draw a card. As if it just winked at them, and it worked. As if the Trainer, not a Pokémon, just got successfully seduced by a Luvdisc, to the point they forgot to draw their card. I am so unbelievably unnerved by this card that I can’t really put it in words.

Luxray // Translation

Snipe Fang is an interesting attack just because it pairs so well with N. It lets you look at your opponent’s hand and get rid of a Trainer card you find there. It almost insures a dead draw off an N to 3 or less. The problem is it’s a Stage 2 with more or less no other uses and the attack costs LC. I can’t really fathom it actually being used, but the attack is pretty interesting and worth noting at least.

Dusknoir // Translation

dusknoir flashfire 40
Can slide in with Dusknoir BCR.

At its simplest level, Dusknoir can be looked at as a bit of mini-Reuniclus. It can soak damage off of your Active Pokémon and has 130 HP so it can stockpile quite a bit of damage. You can take the simple route of abusing Max Potion alongside it as well.

On the other hand, its attack, for PCC, deals damage equal to the damage on Dusknoir. That usually means Dusknoir bites the dust on your next turn of course. Still, the attack cost is splashable, and while it has fringe uses, at least it has a usable attack. Reuniclus doesn’t see play for good reason. It is way too easy to disrupt and almost every deck can score one-hit kills.

Dusknoir would suffer the same fate, except I see some possible use because it can share a line with the other Dusknoir, which already has seen fringe play. If you wanted to run both for utility, suddenly devoting one spot to this guy as opposed to the full line plus Rare Candy, its stock value rises. I would be very surprised if this guy gets sleeved up, but it isn’t impossible that it will see play. It has a powerful Ability, usable yet situational attack, and a convenient playable Evolution line to piggyback from.

Golem // Translation

Come on. Really? Can we just once make this guy reasonable? Seriously. He is always so bad.

Barbaracle // Translation

I feel like it is worth discussing any Pokémon that has a variable damage attack that has no damage cap. The problem with Barbaracle is that its attack costs two Fighting Energy. This is one type with no Energy manipulation available to it, so each Barb has to last two attacks, or you’ll be stuck missing turns. You can maybe use Exp. All, but I see that being unreliable due to Tool Scrapper and even Laser kills.

The other problem is the attack does 30× the number of Energy you discard, opposed to 30+, which would make it a lot friendlier on your discards. Running Superior Energy Retrieval alongside it is pretty much a given, and it provides 120 damage per use. Needing to dump 6 Energy per EX kill is very demanding, as we’ve seen with Keldeo-EX and Delphox. If we get some flexible Fighting Energy acceleration, this guy being a fairly bulky Stage 1 with a high damage output makes it a threatening card; it’s just missing a lot of tools still.

Forretress // Translation

Well, this guy just broke Unlimited with Broken Time-Space and ways to bounce it. Hit points are way too high for its Ability to matter in the real format though.

Durant // Translation

Durant gets mention due to its first attack which punishes large hand sizes. 2004 World Champion Tsuguyoshi Yamato ran 1 Purugly g in his SP list at the LCQ a few years back as a way to punish large hand sizes, so the type of effect has shown strong before.

Unfortunately, the nature of the formats are very different. While SP decks were fast, games went longer and were very attrition-based and demanding on resources. Now, we have N and overall smaller hand sizes, and a quicker game where plays like wasting an attack to drop a hand size may just lose you a game. It takes Colorless and Durant is a Basic, so it’s worth noting, but I’d be very surprised if it saw play.

Florges // Translation

Look how far we’ve come, where this card can be casually written off as too low impact. It has an attack doing 20 to all your opponent’s Pokémon for an Energy, and an attack that grabs you 3 cards. Yet as a Stage 2, it needs to be the end-game, not the card that could get you the end-game. 20 everywhere is a lot less threatening than it was even three years ago, and the format is way too high damage and high hit-pointed for Florges’ hit points and damage output to matter.

Carbink // Translation

I mentioned before loving attacks with no damage cap, and this guy could be an end-game sweeper with Fairy decks. The problem is, its damage output is overshadowed by Mewtwo-EX and Yveltal-EX. The fact it is a non-EX doesn’t even matter because it’s so easy to KO and you have to stockpile so many Energy on it that you’d rather it be harder to kill. Its use would be to take the last Prize, otherwise you wouldn’t expose all your Energy on it, so its non-EX status is irrelevant. The card stands out, but doesn’t pass the test.

Druddigon // Translation

druddigon wild blaze artqueenspritzee.tumblr.com

Ah. The single best card in the set. There. I said it. Well, at the very least, it should be the single most impactful card in the set. Druddigon, as a Dragon type, now one-hit kills a Black Kyurem-EX, or a Rayquaza-EX, for a DCE. Any deck running Double Colorless can now splash a Basic to just destroy Blastoise or Rayboar.

I actually feel this card is so powerful in the matchups that as long as it sees play, I can’t imagine those archetypes remaining tier 1. I actually think this is a bit of a design flaw on Pokémon’s part.

I feel that they were correct in wanting to print a card to help fight those decks. While they are not overwhelmingly the best decks, they are certainly in contention, and they are oppressive to the metagame. The way they play, and the ability to score reliable one-hit kills regardless of boardstate as long as they have their Stage 2 out just makes so many cards and decks non-viable. Even if they are even with the decks in the format, I feel like they subtly remove so many choices from players they are a problem.

That said, the best solutions should be cards that work really well against the deck, but not so well that a majority of the format can just run a card that blanks the deck. You want to bring a deck down a peg, not eradicate it from viability. I know Durant NVI faded for other reasons, but let’s use that Heatmor DEX for an example. Print cards that make it hard for a deck, not cards, that they really can’t beat.

I understand Druddigon isn’t quite at that same level, but if you understand the Plasma or Dark matchups against the deck, you know very well that these decks aren’t winning either of those matchups if they run Druddigon. Plus, the card just does a lot of damage on its own as a non-EX attacker, so it isn’t even a total blank in general games. A conditional 90 for a DCE on a non-EX attacker is strong.

Dragalge // Translation

It has a pretty interesting Ability, preventing retreating, but decks already run a good number of Switching effects. One of the biggest advantages this would offer would be alongside a deck aiming to abuse Status Conditions, but Virizion-EX is just too prominent of a card to really make a deck like that viable. Otherwise I think the card is too low impact to be worth the spots in a deck.

Kangaskhan-EX // Translation

Drawing 3 cards is certainly awesome. I actually think I’d be a pretty decent fan of this guy if you could also attack on the first turn. I really feel like the rules change should have been that you cannot deal damage on the first turn if you are going first, so cards with nice utility attacks like this could be more playable.

The attack isn’t awful, but it just goes to show how the set designs really go out of their way to highlight certain Pokémon while others are afterthoughts. Honestly, look at what we get in a card like this, damage-wise, when we have cards like Darkrai-EX, Keldeo-EX, Rayquaza-EX, Yveltal-EX, and so on. I get a bit annoyed having our hands held with what cards to play. (Sorry for taking that out on you, Kangaskhan!)

M-Kangaskhan-EX // Translation

Well, we get another Mega Evolution. Let’s look at the attack: 50% chance of doing 100 damage for CCC. 50% chance of 130+, 25% chance of 160+, and 12.5% chance of doing 190+. The attack isn’t bad, but as a Mega Evolution, it isn’t close to exciting enough to lure me in.

Blastoise and Venusaur never saw the light of day and I don’t see Kanga doing any better. I actually feel it is a better card than Blastoise, but worse than Venusaur. The problem is that the Mega Evolution mechanic is just so brutally bad. They need to really ramp the power level of these cards if they want them to see any play.

I actually wouldn’t be surprised if they printed Pokémon with Abilities or Trainer cards that work with Mega Evolution cards, which may be what it takes to justify the huge cost of trying to play them. I do want to point out that Fighting, as a type, is extremely underrepresented at the moment, so Kangaskhan’s 230 HP is actually pretty tough to deal with. It could work alongside Aromatisse using Max Potions due to that fact, but I think I’d rather not deal with the Mega Evolution mechanic and attack with other stronger EXs.

Toxicroak-EX // Translation

Well, Toxicroak’s first attack is pretty nice. It gets around Pyroar. It adds up really quickly on damage, in any case. The problem is, decks run a lot of Switch effects, and Virizion-EX again is a huge beating. Toxicroak’s second attack is also utter garbage. I could see maybe running a copy in some deck using DCEs, but it isn’t really exciting and is too easily shut down to end up being a major roleplayer.

Magnezone-EX // Translation

Yuck. I guess I should have complained about this first when discussing Toxicroak, but I really hate them making Evolution Pokémon as Basic EXs. It seems like lazy design, but whatever. Anyway, 40 for a DCE would be a lot better if Mewtwo-EX didn’t have a strictly better attack. Being a good Lightning attacker could be useful, as it picks on Yveltal and Lugia-EX, but I don’t really want to be two-hitting them either.

The second attack costs triple Lightning, which with the rotation of Eelektrik is too difficult to power, and the strength of the attack is not worth the effort. You just don’t see enough 50 HP Basics to pick on, even if you could get it going quickly.

Charizard-EX (Blaze Explosion) // Translation

CharizardEXMCharizardEXBattleDeck1Bulbapedia
This is the one I like best.

This Charizard has 180 HP, Wing Attack for 60 for CCC, and Blaze Explosion for RRCC, dealing 150 damage while preventing the attack from being used the following turn. With the Muscle Band, possible Lasers, and the new Fire-type support Trainers being offered in this set, this Charizard looks to potentially be the primary attacker in a shell build around it.

Charizard-EX (Stoke) // Translation

This Charizard seems really bad compared to the other one. I dislike Stoke, as it’s reliant upon a flip. Fire Blast, doing 120 for 4, is pretty underwhelming by today’s standards. If you want access to a better attack, you have to Mega Evolve, meaning you waste a turn using Stoke, plus another to Mega Evolve. This isn’t really a reasonable sink of turns you can afford, so I’d almost always rather be playing the one that has an attack you can build a deck around.

M-Charizard-EX (Fire) // Translation

With 220 HP, this Mega Evolution gets access to Crimson Dive, an attack for 5 Energy dealing 300 damage and 50 back to itself. My gut tells me that a deck based around Charizard will actually not use the Mega Evolutions. Charizard-EX is able to reach one-hit kills on its own, and you don’t need to pass a turn to get there.

I hate having to damage the Charizard for the damage, because it reduces itself to an effective 170 HP, a total decks already are accustomed to reaching for one-hit kills. This pretty much takes away the appeal of the Mega Evolutions printed so far. Their attacks are all subpar, so all they have is 200+ HP as value, and using Charizard effectively strips itself of that even.

M-Charizard-EX (Dragon) // Translation

Well, this one looks slightly better. You get a much better Weakness (Fairy-type attackers are rare!) and your attack doesn’t strip the Pokémon of its hit points. The downside? You get stuck running Darkness Energy. This is actually a pretty substantial issue because if you want to abuse Blacksmith and Fiery Torch, you need a pretty high amount of basic Fire Energy. Luckily Professor’s Letter helps here, so it is manageable, but it is a hinderance.

Plus, you run into the issue that you mill 5 cards from your deck with your attacks. This would be made a lot easier if the Mega Evolutions functioned more like the old LV.X cards where they could use the attacks of their prior form too. As it is, you are stuck dealing with the downside of the attacks of the Mega Charizards.

Blacksmith // Translation

I love this card. It is a double Dark Patch, but as a Supporter. The upside and burst of Energy attachments this card offers makes it certainly worth it. Interestingly enough, we have a lot of tools to give us a Fire deck which could strive primarily off non-Supporter draw power. You have Tropical Beach, Delphox, and now Fiery Torch. I’m not sure if that gimmick is good enough, but having access to Blacksmith to power up strong Fire type attackers is so strong that you have to at least try to build something unorthodox around it.

Another interesting idea is to try and use Magnezone from Plasma Storm to allow you to play two Supporters in a turn. This also works rather well with the following card…

Lysandre // Translation

lysandre artwork full artBulbapedia

Well, I guess we finally have a reliable Catcher now. I actually think this card will wind up seeing a decent amount of play. A deck like Blastoise or Rayboar, which only wants to really hit one big Catcher over the course of a game, would gladly give up playing a Supporter too avoid having to flip. Especially Rayboar, which has access to Delphox for consistency.

Another interesting point with this card is how badly it messes up Trevenant. You can bench the Tree with Lysandre to break the lock and play all of our Item cards. I think if the card sees play (and I suspect it will) that Trevenant goes from being a fringe playable deck to not to being viable at all.

You don’t really see decks playing full sets of Catchers anymore, and in most cases I see a switch over to Lysandre. I guess Yveltal/Garbodor using Junk Hunt may stick with Catchers still, but beyond that I see Lysandre being the go-to “Gust of Wind.”

Pal Pad // Translation

Pal Pad offers an interesting mechanic. I actually like this card for a number of reasons, but I’m really not sure if they will translate into it being played. I loved Red Card for example, but the decks just don’t have enough space for that type of effect, and I could see Pal Pad suffering the same fate.

Pal Pad is cool if you want to use a variety of utility Supporters. If you do use any sort of engine with Magnezone PLS, this card could refill your tank. It also is useful for just restocking your deck with Supporters for the late-game N wars. I don’t think it has an impact in enough games to warrant spots over other cards in most decks though.

Nonetheless, this card is neat, and Pokémon seems to be printing more and more utility Supporters which make this better.

Pokémon Fan Club // Translation

It’s been awhile, Pokémon Fan Club. The problem is, we’ve since seen Pokémon Collector. And we currently have access to a wide assortment of Balls to get us Pokémon without having to use our Supporter for the turn. I can’t really imagine too many decks where I’d want this card.

Maybe I’m undervaluing it in a deck such as Plasma, where you want to fill your Bench quickly, or even in a deck like the Genesect build I listed earlier. I can’t imagine running too many copies of this card, but maybe 1-2 in some lists turns out to be correct. I’d say odds are that it does not see any play, though.

Pokémon Center Lady // Translation

The trend of giving us powerful effects as Supporters continues. It seems that Pokémon decided to discontinue the ACE SPEC card type, and instead seems to be replacing it with these types of Supporters.

I don’t think using your Supporter to heal a Pokémon is going to be worth it. There are too many decks scoring one-hit kills, and we have plenty of other healing options for decks that do want that kind of effect.

One place I could see a copy or two of this card sneaking into would be an Aromatisse or Hydreigon deck that just wants extra copies of Max Potion beyond 4. I don’t think that’ll be the case, but it could happen. If Druddigon does wipe Blastoise and Rayboar out of the metagame, then that type of deck could surge from the change.

Magnetic Storm // Translation

Want to take bets on what justification we get for why we can’t play our old copies of this card? Actually, the best justification would likely be that we won’t play any copies of this card. There aren’t really any examples of Resistance playing a huge role in current matchups, so I see no reason to run this card. I mean, down the line maybe things will change, but currently this one can sit on the sidelines.

Surprise Megaphone // Translation

And… we get our Tool Scrapper upgrade. Well, not a strict upgrade. I could actually see some very isolated spots where you want to get a Tool off one of your own Pokémon to play a new one, or turn off your own Garbodor’s Ability. On the flip side, this card is an absolute beating against Tool Drop. The difference between getting rid of 2 Tools compared to 6+ is massive, and a play I don’t think that deck can really recover from often.

It seems like the cards in this set do a good job of just driving a nail in the coffin in certain archetypes. Blastoise, Rayboar, Trevenant, and Tool Drop all face massive threats that they can’t overcome anymore.

Protect Cube // Tranlsation

Hey! Just what Golem asked for! I take it back. No. Still kidding. Golem is still trash. This card doesn’t really work well enough with any viable cards, even if it is a cute and fun inclusion in the set. I actually do think this may hold some use alongside the Fire-typed M-Charizard-EX, letting it hit for 300 damage without taking away from its tankiness. Plus, it doesn’t care about Tool Scrapper or Surprise Megaphone, because you really only need to have it in play the turn you attack. Sure, you’d prefer to have one stick, but even if it doesn’t, you got value.

Fiery Torch // Translation

FieryTorchWildBlaze75Bulbapedia
I feel warm about this card.

This is an exciting card! We don’t get reliable non-Supporter draw power very often at all. Now the catch with this one is you have to be using a deck chock full of basic Fire Energy. As critical as I am of the design approach Pokémon takes toward their sets, I love printing cards to augment the strength of certain types. I’d love to see this eventually happen with all of the types to kind of capture and show off their own flavor. I loved when we get our type specific Holon Energy back in the day, and I love they have been doing similar things now.

The problem I do have is that they don’t treat all of the types fairly. I’d much rather see all types supported at once, rather than singling out just one. Going back to the Torch in particular, this card is obviously intended to be used in conjunction with Blacksmith. Not only does it help you get Energy discarded to fuel Blacksmith, but it gives you draw power to compensate for using your Supporter on Blacksmith.

Outside of gimmicky Charizard-based decks, I wonder if this card could be used in Rayboar as well. You may have to add additional Fire Energy, or ways to get more back, because current builds are really running light on total Energy, and I’m not so sure how many you can justify pitching to Fiery Torch. The added strength of starts the deck could gain may be worth it, but space is really tight in the lists already so I don’t know if it could work. Plus, they likely have to figure out something to do against Druddigon.

Prank Scoop // Translation

Hmmm. This is an interesting card. Prank Scoop offers a bit of control over both decks, but it is very minimal. I’m thinking Red Card syndrome here again. One of the more painful plays with this card would be to control the top of the opponent’s deck after an N. I think the odds any deck can justify throwing all of the tools needed to make this kind of combo work is unbelievably low. This is one I’d be very surprised to see played.

Sacred Ash // Translation

Well, we’ve got our newest Nightly Garbage Run/Town Volunteers/Night Maintenance/Super Rod-type card. They often see play, but I think this one is worse than Super Rod, namely because it only gets Pokémon back, and more often than not, Super Rod is used to get Energy cards back. I can’t think of any deck that would prefer this over Super Rod.

Incorporating Flashfire

Now that we know what we have to work with both in terms of the old decks and the new cards, we can work to incorporate them together. I went over all of the cards in individual capacity, but the big things to come out of the set are the following:

  1. Druddigon is a splashable roleplayer who will give fits to Blastoise and Rayboar decks.
  2. Pyroar is going to be a huge pain for any Basic decks. Whether it sees play in a deck based around abusing it primarily or as a splash to harass certain decks remains to be seen.
  3. Finally, the set is trying to force on us a Fire gimmick deck using Blacksmith, Fiery Torch, and likely Charizard-EX. I’m fairly unexcited by the prospects of it so far, but usually the feature gimmicks in each set turn out to be at least decent, so it is almost always wrong to write them off.

Let’s break this down into a list of decks that should be a part of the initial gauntlet.

New Decks

  • Pyroar/Archeops
  • Charizard

Old Decks

  • Blastoise
  • Rayboar
  • Virizion/Genesect
  • Plasma
  • Aggro Yveltal
  • Yveltal/Garbodor
  • Fairy Toolbox

We know that the old decks will at least be reasonably good. The lists are established, they are proven and tuned. The new decks will be either hit or miss. They are pretty much the “built for us” decks of the format.

First off, I’ll go through and update all of the old archetypes for where I’d start with changes. Not only do we want to plug in cards we know will make the deck better, but we want to look at what other decks gain and try and make adjustments to answer those changes as well. Some of them are pretty obvious and easy to theorycraft, and others will probably have to be discovered once a lot of playtesting has been done. I’ve gotten to do a good amount of testing so far, but a lot of people were still practicing for Regionals, so I didn’t do nearly as much as I’d have liked.

Old Decks

Blastoise

blastoise plasma storm pls 137 official
Blastoise itself may need to attack more.

Blastoise faces two major challenges. The first is the rise in popularity of Genesect decks. Second, we have to deal with Druddigon. Genesect’s popularity will be a bit of a wildcard. Blastoise’s viability seems to always be somewhat cyclical. Whether players choose to play Rayboar dictates how viable Genesect is, and when Rayboar is not popular, Genesect gains, which brings Rayboar back.

Interesting enough, this is a Fire-themed set, so we have two new decks which are also going to be very good against Genesect. If either one of them ends up being popular, Genesect is going to have two major threats that it has to deal with. Genesect has been a fairly adaptable deck, but it has never been able to find any solutions for issues regarding Fire. We haven’t been given any new cards to change this. My gut feeling is that Genesect will be popular in testing at first, but should wind up poorly positioned overall. This does help Blastoise on that front.

On the other hand, you still have Druddigon. Druddigon is going to really mess up a focus on Black Kyurem-EX. Unfortunately, you have to just kind of accept that. You have the ability to attack with Keldeo-EX in some matchups, but the problem is, assuming we expect the decks splashing Druddigon to have access to either Deoxys-EX or Yveltal-EX, Keldeo isn’t going to really be doing a lot of work there either.

There are a few ways to try and approach this. Luckily, Druddigon is a purely reactive card. It can’t proactively assault the deck well. This means they will likely be leading with an EX card. So you can hope to KO their EX, then Catcher or Lysandre EXs and win the exchange, ignoring Druddigon. You could also just suck it up and kill Druddigons with your own non-EX cards. This could be either a Black Kyurem BCR or Blastoise. Using Blastoise forces them to use Yveltal-EX for a KO, which at least gives you another shot at an EX. This may work out if they run only one Druddigon.

This makes me want to be able to attack more reliably with Blastoise into a Druddigon. This makes me want to have both a slightly thicker line to be able to build replacements more easily, and also to a bit more Energy in case I am forced to rely on Blastoise and Keldeo-EX more.

A few basic upgrades: Catchers become one Lysandre. (You can Dowsing Machine for a second use if need be.) Tool Scrappers become Surprise Megaphones.

List: Updated

Pokémon – 16

4 Squirtle BCR
3 Blastoise BCR
3 Black Kyurem-EX PLS

2 Keldeo-EX
1 Black Kyurem BCR
1 Voltorb PLF
1 Electrode PLF
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 33

2 Professor Juniper

4 N
4 Skyla
1 Colress

1 Lysandre

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Heavy Ball
1 Level Ball
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
4 Rare Candy
2 Professor’s Letter
2 Surprise Megaphone

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 11

9 Water

2 Lightning

Rayboar

Rayboar shares a lot of the same issues with Blastoise, besides having an inverse relationship with Genesect. Rayboar is slightly better equipped to answer Druddigon because it has access to Delphox as a lower maintenance non-EX KO. Lysandre allowing you to get KOs on crucial parts of a setup from a Trevenant deck and Surprise Megaphone shoring up the Tool Drop matchup should fix two of the deck’s other problematic matchups. I’m also adding Reshiram, which was always a good card in the deck, to also help answer Druddigons.

I’d like to consider running a 2nd Lysandre in this deck, maybe to proactively hunt cards like Druddigon or general issue cards in matchups more reliably.

Also, I’ve always felt pretty safe against Plasma and aggressive Dark decks before, but if it gets a lot tighter with Druddigon, we could try to add Enhanced Hammer to slow them down just as much. Either Catchering Druddigon or Hammering an Energy off of one and slamming an N during an exchange can be a good weapon there. If you want to try experimenting with adding one, I’d cut the Reshiram for it.

List: Updated

Pokémon – 15

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

Trainers – 35

2 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
1 Colress

1 Lysandre

 

4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball

4 Rare Candy
4 Superior Energy Retrieval
2 Startling Megaphone
2 Professor’s Letter

1 Escape Rope
1 Switch

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 10

8 Fire
2 Lightning

Plasma

PokémonFanClubWildBlaze87Bulbapedia
Fan Club might be worth testing.

Plasma stands to gain quite a bit from this set. First off, I mentioned before how I didn’t like Palkia-EX as a way to answer Blastoise and Rayboar. Those matchups were rough. Druddigon is the answer we were looking for. I’m hoping a single copy is enough to skew the matchups. Perhaps two is needed, and if the decks stay popular, I’d even suggest playing them both.

If we assume Charizard ends up as a real deck, having access to Kyurem is a huge boon and will pay off. The problem we run into is Pyroar. We currently have a total of absolutely zero outs to so much as 1 Pyroar. It isn’t too hard to add a 1-1 Evolution line to be able to KO a Pyroar, but I’m not sure any sort of tech is going to allow us to beat a deck playing a full line of the things.

The initial list here runs no answers to a Pyroar, but if the card does catch on in popularity something needs to be added. I wish Milotic didn’t specify basic Energy because it would actually be a pretty cool inclusion. It can knock out a Pyroar, and I’d love to be able to power up a Snorlax or Kyurem out of nowhere. Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly enough basic Energy to make that work.

A few other interesting options for inclusions: I’d love to test out Pokémon Fan Club in here. I may jam one in here over a Supporter or a Ball just to see how it plays. I’d also like to try out Lysandre. I wonder if Lysandre is better than running Genesect? I don’t think it is though. I feel like Plasma has always been very demanding on your Supporter use, especially since you have to use Shadow Triads. I’d be more likely to believe Genesect alongside one Lysandre.

List: Updated

Pokémon – 12

4 Deoxys-EX
2 Thundurus-EX PLF
2 Lugia-EX
1 Snorlax PLS
1 Kyurem PLF
1 Druddigon FLF
1 Genesect-EX

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Colress
2 Skyla

2 Shadow Triad

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Team Plasma Ball
3 Switch
1 Escape Rope
3 Colress Machine

3 Muscle Band

2 Startling Megaphone
1 Max Potion

1 Scramble Switch

Energy – 14

4 Double Colorless
4 Plasma
4 Prism
2 Lightning

Aggro Yveltal

One of the primary reasons why players choose to run Garbodor in their Dark decks is to improve their Blastoise and Rayboar matchups. Druddigon serves the same purpose and lets you play an overall more aggressive game plan. I’m choosing to add 2 Druddigon to the deck, as not only is it great against Dragon attackers, but 90 for an Energy is strong anyway and I see it serving a purpose as just a general attacker.

I’m making the switch from Catchers over to Lysandre, but this may be one of the few decks where Catcher is better. I swapped the Random Receiver/Bicycle count in favor of Bike to accommodate the Lysandre change so that we have slightly more draw power if we tie up our Supporter.

I also added a 1-1 Raichu line. Raichu has already been showing up in decks as a good counter to Yveltal and Lugia. Now we also need an Evolution to answer Pyroar, and Raichu seems like as good a choice as any. I also feel like these Dark decks, now that they have a good answer for Blastoise/Rayboar, are the decks to beat, so having a weapon to punish Yveltals is always great.

You could try to punish these decks with Enhanced Hammers, but I feel like Raichu attacks the same decks, but also doubles as your Pyroar answer. Raichu’s stock just continues to rise.

List: Updated

Pokémon – 12

3 Yveltal-EX
2 Bouffalant DRX
2 Druddigon FLF
2 Darkrai-EX
1 Sableye DEX
1 Pikachu XY
1 Raichu XY

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Random Receiver
3 Bicycle
2 Lysandre

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Dark Patch
3 Muscle Band

2 Energy Switch
2 Professor’s Letter

1 Computer Search

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Darkness

4 Double Colorless

Yveltal/Garbodor

yveltal-ex-xy-144
The strongest card to come out of XY.

Now we address the other end of the spectrum of Dark decks. I actually do like having access to Garbodor quite a bit, even if we don’t need it to beat Blastoise and Rayboar necessarily. We do have to deal with decks using Virizion now. Even if Genesect ends up a weaker deck, Fairy Toolbox certainly benefits from a decrease in OHKO decks. If Rayboar, Blastoise, and Genesect decrease in power, that all benefits the Fairy deck. In turn, having a powerful counter to it in Garbodor is really nice.

Garbodor is inherently strong against Blastoise and Rayboar, but I still want to include a Druddigon to secure the matchup further. Garbodor also helps against Pyroar. One thing I want to address is that if Pyroar decks using Archeops become a thing, then you can run Evosoda as a way to bypass Pyroar’s Ability and to get Garbodor into play and lock the game up. Theoretically they could Golurk Garbodor away, but you could Junk Hunt for Evosoda and get Garbodor again to force it back out after KOing the Golurk.

I am running Lysandre in the deck at the moment, but I actually feel like Catcher may be better in here because I want to be able to Junk Hunt for them. Dowsing Machine helps for the looping though, so I think that may be sufficient.

I know I am beating a bit of a dead horse here, but part of me wants to jam some Raichu in here anyway. I’ve not a clue what I’d be cutting for it, but it seems like we’ve got such strong matchups elsewhere that Raichu would just add extra strength against Plasma and other Yveltal decks. I don’t know where the space would come from though. Probably from trimming a Darkrai-EX, and well… yeah. I’m not sure what else I would cut. I really am unsure if it’d fit. I think you’d have to go in and make some vast overhauls to the deck design as a whole. It would take some very unorthodox tweaks.

List: Updated

Pokémon – 13

2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR
3 Yveltal-EX
3 Sableye DEX
2 Darkrai-EX
1 Druddigon FLF

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Random Receiver
3 Bicycle
2 Lysandre

 

3 Ultra Ball

3 Dark Patch

3 Muscle Band
2 Energy Switch

2 Float Stone

1 Escape Rope
1 Professor’s Letter

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

7 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

Virizion/Genesect

First off, let me state that I don’t think Genesect is a particularly good play right now. I will try and put together an updated list for the Roserade build because it is the more accepted deck than my weird little homebrew. (If you are particularly interested in discussing updating that deck, or critiquing it at all, feel free to hit me up. I’d love to discuss it with you.) The main reason I’m using the Roserade shell here is because I want an answer to Pyroar. Simply put, the Deoxys/Lugia build is so demanding on space that I can’t fit in solution to it. I also feel that G Booster offers a lot in that matchup.

Here we return again to our good friends Pikachu and Raichu. They strengthen our game against Lugia and Yveltal, and answer Pyroar. The other reason I like keeping the Roserade in here is it lets me run a DCE and be able to search it out. This works with Raichu (although Raichu can be powered by Virizion or Energy Switch) and also is a nice way to conserve Energy for G Booster. I also made the fix to add in a Colress Machine, and swapped out one of the Grass Energy for a Professor’s Letter.

The deck really didn’t gain a whole ton out of this set. If you look at what we did, we actually are just being forced to defend against changes to the format, without actually adding any new weapons to make the deck inherently stronger. Raichu, which answers Pyroar reasonably, still doesn’t do a thing to beat Rayboar, and I don’t see it doing anything to beat a Charizard deck either.

List: Updated

Pokémon – 15

4 Virizion-EX
3 Genesect-EX
2 Roselia DRX 12
2 Roserade DRX 15
2 Pikachu XY
2 Raichu XY

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
1 Colress
2 Shadow Triad

 

2 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
3 Energy Switch
3 Muscle Band
1 Colress Machine
1 Professor’s Letter

1 Super Rod

1 G Booster

 

3 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 13

8 Grass
4 Plasma
1 Double Colorless

Fairy Toolbox

I think it’s in better position now!

This is an archetype that I felt was not quite good enough prior to Flashfire, and one I now think gained quite a bit in how I predict the metagame will shift. I’m not sure if that takes the deck from a poor position to being good, or from a poor position to being great. I could also just be wrong on my predictions, and the deck ends up being bad. I think that is unlikely though.

The first debate I had was whether I felt we should be running Druddigon ourselves to deal with Blastoise and Rayboar, or if I should just hope the other decks running it weed them out. I’m actually just not sure if the Druddigons do enough in the matchup to make it a win, and they fit in somewhat awkwardly even. It isn’t a deck using Double Colorless Energy, so each Druddy still eats up two attachments.

One of the cool things I like about the deck is that if Raichu picks up in popularity (and I suspect it will) then Landorus-EX is a massive beating for that card.

Going off of Ryan’s list, I decided to put in 2 Druddigon. Doing so, I took the somewhat awkward Plasma Energy (which are more or less just there for Red Signal) and made it a split of two of those and two Double Colorless Energy. Any Energy beyond the 8 Fairy producing ones are going to be bad in the deck, but this split seems like a compromise of wanting access to Red Signal (albeit unreliably) and being able to abuse Druddy better, and strengthening your Yveltal plays.

To offset the weakened Red Signal presence of the deck, I added one copy of Lysandre. I also padded the Thundurus-EX count, as I think the card is just very strong in the deck, and helps to keep your Energy in play.

I also added a Keldeo-EX. Rush In may have fringe applications, but the main reason I added it is in case Charizard sees play. Keldeo is a pretty strong OHKO option against it (DCE plus 1 Energy plus Muscle Band is a OHKO).

One of the things I’d love to do with the deck is adding Sacred Ash. Remember how I said earlier that I couldn’t imagine using it over Super Rod? Well, this is one of the few decks it is better in. We run a pretty diverse split of Pokémon we may want to get back. This is something I want to point out as well.

You’ll notice in a lot of my lists I don’t run Surprise Megaphone or Tool Scrapper. I know a lot of people play these as just random catch-all cards, but I hate doing that. I don’t want to run the card to maybe occasionally hit a gamestate where it could possibly be beneficial. If I don’t have a specific matchup where I feel the card is good enough, I don’t want to run it. If you do, that is fine, I know plenty of people who choose to that I respect as fantastic players, but I never will.

For me, it comes down to Garbodor. Either you need help beating Garbodor and can run enough Scrappers to make the matchup winnable, or I don’t run them at all. This deck isn’t going to get much mileage off of one use of a Scrapper. You get one turn of reprieve from the lock. I just don’t think it will end up being enough to help. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not even saying the matchup is atrocious – we have a bunch of low-Energy attackers that can pressure them. But I don’t think the one turn of Abilities is going to be the deciding factor on whether or not the games are wins or losses.

List: Updated

Pokémon – 18

3 Spritzee XY
2 Aromatisse XY
2 Thundurus-EX PLF
2 Genesect-EX
2 Landorus-EX
1 Cobalion-EX
1 Virizion-EX
2 Yveltal-EX
2 Druddigon FLF
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

2 Skyla
4 Colress

1 Lysandre

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball

3 Max Potion
3 Muscle Band

1 Switch

1 G Booster

 

3 Fairy Garden

Energy – 12

4 Prism
4 Rainbow
2 Double Colorless
2 Plasma

New Decks

Pyroar/Archeops

pyroar flashfire 20
How many decks can handle 4 Pyroar?

Ok, now this one is probably going to end up being a bit of a trainwreck of a list. I’m including this more as a starting point for discussion than as me claiming “this is a fine-tuned tier 1 deck.” I played a few games with it and made some adjustments, but it wasn’t a top priority for me in testing, so it is far from a final product.

The basic idea of the deck is to just swarm with Pyroars. Decks which can’t beat 4+ Pyroar (Super Rod ) are just cold to you. Decks which do have Evolutions have to try to race you getting Archeops into play. Don’t get me wrong; Archeops is not a particularly consistent card. You need to get it in play before Garbodor, or before Blastoise. You can actually probably kill a Blastoise or Emboar that sneaks into play before Archeops, as they are forced to attack with it. Garbodor on the other hand is a bit less optimistic.

This build is fairly greedy, sliding a Golurk line into it to be able to devolve a Pokémon that sneaks into play past Archeops. This defocuses the deck a bit, forcing you to run some Psychic Energy, but the games you win can afford a bit of clunking due to it. (And it isn’t even a big deal.)

If you choose not to run Golurk, you free up some space to include more Fire Energy and add Fiery Torch to try and give you some extra speed to try and get Archeops into play a bit sooner. The Golurk may be too fancy, but I am just paranoid about letting Garbodor just ruin the deck if it gets out first. I’m also unsure if Blacksmith is worth it in this deck. If they are knocking out a bunch of Pyroars, something went pretty wrong. I’m just not sure how many losses stem from being choked on Energy attachments.

List: New

Pokémon – 17

4 Litleo FLF 18
4 Pyroar FLF
4 Archen PLB
3 Archeops DEX
1 Golett DRX
1 Golurk DRX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla
1 Colress

1 Blacksmith

2 Lysandre

 

4 Ultra Ball

2 Evosoda
1 Level Ball

4 Plume Fossil

3 Switch

1 Professor’s Letter
1 Super Rod
1 Computer Search

Energy – 10

6 Fire

3 Double Colorless
1 Psychic

Charizard

This is the hard part. We have so many different tools to work with, and we don’t really have a previously tuned skeleton list to mimic the deck off of. Now, my initial evaluation is that we will be foregoing the Mega Evolutions entirely. The mechanic is just so difficult to use. I dislike the Fire-type Mega Evolution a lot, and the Dragon-type one, while it has its perks, requires you to really add a lot more to the deck. As a result, we’ll be focusing on the Charizard-EX which deals 150 damage for four Energy.

The deck wants to fit in a full set of Blacksmith and Fiery Torch. This also means we’ll need a lot of Fire Energy to go with it. The fun part? We also need Double Colorless Energy. One of the biggest appeals to me is being able to power up a Charizard-EX out of nowhere. There are a few angles to approach this deck from.

One of the big drawbacks to Blacksmith is it being a Supporter. On one hand, Charizard is a Basic, and we have some nice tools to be able to keep the deck functioning even when limiting yourself on Supporters. Another approach would be to use a Stage 2 Pokémon to augment your setup process. The two big candidates are Delphox XY and Magnezone PLS. Delphox gives you access to more raw card quality, and Magnezone lets you play more multiple Supporters, including some of the nice utility ones we’ve been getting lately.

The problem with both of these is how much space they take up. They take up 4+ spots for the Pokémon alone, plus you need Rare Candy. With both of these, you still need to jam a ton of other cards into the deck too. Needing to fit Charizard, enough Fire Energy, Blacksmiths, Fiery Torches, the tools to power out a Stage 2, plus all the Supporters you need to function is just not worth the space. You also need enough switching effects to offset the fact that Charizard can’t use its big attack on consecutive turns.

pikachu charizard flying fireballpokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com

Instead, I started off with a very minimalist approach. Starting with a basic 12 Supporter lineup, and putting in the necessary tools for Charizard to work, I found myself with very few Basics and a ton of space. I really didn’t have enough space to warrant running any of those Stage 2 Pokémon, and they seemed like they wouldn’t be worth it anyway.

On the other hand, just running a bunch of Basics that I’d never be attacking with seemed pretty worthless too. So it got me thinking. One of the cool things about Charizard is that this whole deck doesn’t even begin to touch on using any Abilities. Garbodor ends up almost a perfect fit into the deck. Charizard has an inherent advantage over Genesect. You have issues with Rayboar because they can kill Charizards. Garbodor works wonders to help there. Blastoise is a huge problem, and Garbodor is good there, but at the same time I’m not sure that it will be enough to overcome the type disadvantage. Garb also hurts Plasma and Fairy Toolbox as well.

Once we add Garbodor, we still have a bit of extra space. I originally wanted to try and run Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank to hit the magic 180 mark against Lugia, Darkrai, and Black Kyurem-EX. In Blastoise, I don’t think Kyurem is the big issue. I considered running Lasers over Muscle Band because we have Garbodor to make sure the status sticks, but then I found myself with too few Tools to make Garbodor work. One compromise could be to run 1 Laser, just to jump from 170 to 180 in necessary spots.

Alongside Garbodor, I added a Druddigon as a means to help against Rayquaza and Black Kyurem-EX during the key turns where the decks break Garbotoxin with a Scrapper or Megaphone.

I’m also running Raichu (again). Raichu gives us that nice Lugia kill. It also gives us a free Retreat Cost which is great with needing to get easy retreats to reset Charizard. It also answers Yveltal-EX which can lead to problems because Charizard’s a huge Energy hog. I’m not 100% convinced the Raichu is correct in here, and they could perhaps be cut for space, but you’d need to add a Basic Pokémon in with a free Retreat Cost.

Another card that would be interesting to include is a Reshiram. It’s a strong non-EX attacker you can Blacksmith to.

I’m also torn on Computer Search versus Dowsing Machine. This is a deck that really benefits from the consistency gained from CPU Search, but some of the Trainers are pretty thin in numbers and I’d like extra copies of them, so Dowsing doesn’t seem too bad either.

I am curious to see where Charizard has taken other players at the start of testing too. It is one of the more overwhelming deck building processes I’ve experienced recently with Pokémon. I’m pretty sure Magnezone is not good enough, even though I know a few players championing it. Delphox may be a bit better, although you still need to waste a whole lot of space to make it fit.

List: New

Pokémon – 12

3 Charizard-EX FLF 12
2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR
1 Druddigon FLF
2 Pikachu XY
2 Raichu XY

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
4 Skyla

 

4 Blacksmith

4 Fiery Torch

2 Professor’s Letter

 

4 Switch

3 Muscle Band
3 Ultra Ball

2 Float Stone
1 Super Rod
1 Computer Search

Energy – 12

8 Fire
4 Double Colorless

Conclusion

sunrise sunsetpokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com

What can we take from Flashfire as a set? I really feel like the clear-cut winner when all the dust settles is going to be the Dark decks (Garbodor in particular). Yveltal/Garbodor decks can answer the new problem card in Pyroar, and have a brand new tool in Druddigon to beat the big OHKO decks that could still give them a bit of trouble. The Fire cards keep Genesect in check, and the Fairy Toolbox deck should benefit, which in turn benefits Garbodor.

If you couldn’t figure it out already either, I’m really high on Raichu as well right now. Any deck running DCE can splash Druddigon and Raichu and attack a huge portion of the metagame at a fairly minimal cost. You’ll notice I more or less just combined all of my favorite cards at the moment into my Charizard build.

I think Flashfire did a better job weakening certain tier 1 decks than it did at creating new options. Blastoise and Rayboar certainly took a hit, and drop from being what I viewed as the top decks in the format. Trevenant is really crushed by Lysandre. Tool Drop is pretty much crippled by the upgrade from Scrapper to Megaphone.

Pyroar will put an interesting wrench in the format as well. I feel like it can crush certain decks, but if people really care to beat it, they will, and it will be pretty ineffective. I could see it playing the old Mewtwo LV.X role, where it gets added as a 1-1 line to try and get free wins off certain people, but it’s a card that is great if no one plans for it, and is worthless when too many do. It will do a bit to keep Genesect in check though, so it being used as a thin splash still seems pretty reasonable and could show up. I’m not sure what decks really want to run it because of the Energy demands, but I’m sure the shell is there.


Hopefully this wasn’t too long of a read and that it was enjoyable and informative. If anyone wants to discuss any decks or card ideas with me, feel free to message me! I’m pretty excited about the format going into Nationals, and would love to explore some of the new potential archetypes that may spring from this new set.


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