If You’re Prepared… Or If You’re Not

2014 US Nationals Deck Options for Varying Levels of Readiness

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US Nationals is just around the corner, which means you are now less than two weeks away from being able to cram yourself into an old Honda Accord with four other sweaty guys for an hours-long trip to the Mecca of competitive Pokémon TCG playing: Indianapolis. Your deck is ready to go, and you have playtested more hours than you can count. You know your deck inside and out, as well as what to do with any matchup you face.

… Or maybe you don’t. Perhaps, like many, you have faced the brunt of that thing called adulthood, and amidst bills, work hours, familial obligations, cleaning out gunk from the sink, and an encroaching sense of your own mortality, Pikachu is the only thing keeping you connected with the idea that life can be fun. Perhaps you are the kind of person who doesn’t even have a deck on you – you just play whatever your friend hands you.

See, that’s something I am reminded of at this point in my life, that no matter how much some people intend to be prepared for a tournament as big as Nationals, the Pokémon TCG is still a hobby. Of course, to those who play, the game is so much more, but between sitting down to playtest and spending that time with family after a full day of work, most will pick family. Pikachu will just have to wait.

As much as we all want to believe we will be prepared for Nationals in a couple of weeks, the reality varies from person to person. It’s like not owning any Tropical Beach – no matter how much you try to compensate for the lack of that card in something like Rayboar (Rayquaza-EX/Emboar LTR), you are better off switching to a different deck. Sorry to let three quarters of the competitive player base down.

It is largely that notion I want to address with my article today. Essentially, I am going to offer a rundown of various decks and the people who should play them. We will be looking at three main categories of people: those who are more than prepared, those who are kinda prepared, and those who attended League late in the season to get their 10 Play! Points.

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

Table of Contents


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For today’s Blast from the Past, I share with you a hidden artifact of a format past: my brother’s ’06-’07 “Scythe” deck! First, though, a little bit of backstory.

The ’05-’06 season was the first time my brother and I played the Pokémon TCG competitively. After winning two Gym Challenges, placing 3rd at the Southeast Regionals, and getting top 32 and top 16 at Worlds, it would stand to reason that we would continue this trend during the next season. Sadly, this did not happen.

Between these two seasons, Pokémon Organized Play (POP) decided to change the invite structure dramatically, prompting my brother and I to stop playing for a season. For the ’06-’07 season, POP awarded eight invites to the North American Masters Division by rating. To my brother and I – who had both won paid invitations the season before to Worlds by winning Gym Challenges – the decision was incredibly disheartening. The very thought of competing so stringently for just a chance to get an invitation seemed absurd. And so, during the “golden age” of Pokémon, we mostly dropped out of the tournament scene.

That didn’t mean that we stopped playing, however. We still had a plan to make it to Worlds that year, even though chances for failure were high. In secret, we worked together on a deck that would win Nationals, thereby getting us to Worlds easy. We figured that if we could create a deck that had extremely good matchups against everything in the format, we could justify the trip to Nationals. We both got to work, but Kevin was ultimately the victor in our own personal challenge, and he had created a completely different draw engine in the process.

Kevin’s one of those players who will play certain Pokémon because he likes them. Even further than that, though, he will try to make that Pokémon competitive. This is usually an extremely difficult task (I tried for a long time to make a competitive Regigigas-EX deck… never happened), but sometimes the work pays off. Swampert just happened to be one of Kevin’s favorite cards, and so he started building decks based around Swampert ex CG’s Poké-Power.

Since I was away at college during this time, we would often spend time on our own making decks, then bring them to a weekly get-together. One day, my brother told me that he had found his ticket Worlds. With complete skepticism, I asked him to show me the deck. “Let’s play a few games first,” he said with a half smile. Hours later, I was more than convinced.

Kevin’s deck utilized the craziest cards, all seemingly worlds away from any cohesive strategy. He had Swampert ex because he liked it – oh, and because it could bring any Energy cards back from the discard pile at the cost of one’s turn. He had Scizor ex to soak up those Energy cards. He had two types of Gardevoir – one was the d ex from Dragon Frontiers and the the other was the healing one from Emerald. He also played four Jirachi DX and loads of switching cards like Warp Point, Warp Energy, and Switch. And Giant Stump – he played Giant Stump to send things to the discard pile.

On the surface, it made very little sense. I mean, I could see how one thing would lead to another then to another and there would be a massively tanked Scizor ex with a healing Gardevoir behind it, but how could you set the thing up?

I recently had a conversation with someone about this very deck, and found myself being sure to explain every little part just right:

“Kevin would regularly send things to the Bench and use Giant Stump to get them out of the picture (essentially doing what Max Potion does today in a roundabout way). He had recovery to bring them back. He would commonly weaken the opponent’s field with Gardevoir ex DF’s Imprison Poké-Power, use Swampert ex’s Power to recycle Energy, and swing with Scizor ex when the moment was right.

2007, because we both weren’t competitive that year, Kevin gave the list to someone who went to Nats, and that’s the only light it ever saw. In testing, I couldn’t beat the deck with anything. His support engine was mostly Jirachi DX with Warp Points and Warp Energies. He would get Jirachi DX Active, use its Poké-Power, play Warp Energy, use another Jirachi DX’s Poké-Power, play Giant Stump to send the original Jirachi DX and Warp Energy to the discard, etc., etc., etc. It was kinda crazy.”

The Jirachi DX “Warp Engine” was truly strong. People played Jirachi DX at the time, but nobody was using it in conjunction with lots of switching cards. For the most part, the fewer Switch-like cards a person could play at the time, the better. Besides, Warp Energy went into very few decks successfully. As a result, it was something completely overlooked by everyone as far as I know.

A couple of years ago, my brother was interview by Celadon City Gym. Here’s what he had to say about his creation when asked what his favorite deck was:

“My favorite deck ever is one that no one knows about. The deck is Scizor-EX/Swampert-EX/Gardevoir Heal Dance/Gardevoir EX d/ Jirachi (Wishing Star). I won every game I ever played with it. I also played Giant Stump and Latios Shining. I would get 2-3 Energy in the discard pile on the first turn. Then I would get Swampert-EX into play, use his Power to get the energy into play and then end the turn.

I would load Scizor-EX with Metal-the only thing that could kill Scizor was Fire and I could kill Fire with Swampert. I would heal my Scizor-EX with Gardevoir. I would put Imprison Counters on Metagross and Dragonites (Metagross could also 1HKO Scizor-EX) with my Gardevoir EX in order to prevent the opponent from using their Powers. I played so many Switch cards. I probably played 200 games with it. It was so cool and I am sad I never won anything with it. It was such a fun deck to play.”

As Kevin’s testing partner, I can personally vouch for what he said about winning every game with Scythe. I never won a game against his monstrosity of a deck. I went through periods of complete denial, claiming he got lucky (since, of course, he had nothing other than Jirachi DX for setting up) until finally admitting that he had created something truly amazing. We worked together on perfecting the concept, right up until Kevin found out he would not be able to attend Nationals.

Yep, that my friends is the disappointing end to this story. Kevin had to choose between church camp and Pokémon Nationals, though it wasn’t really much of a choice. Our mom, unfamiliar at the time with the Pokémon community and wary of letting her teenage son drive many states away, told Kevin that he could not go to Nationals. As a result, I folded too, as I couldn’t dream of going without my little brother. We leaked the list to one person who didn’t get any adequate testing in, and that was that. Swampert ex CG and Gardevoir ex DF never got the credit they deserved, and an entirely new draw engine faded into obscurity.

That’s sad news. But hey! There’s supposedly an ’06-’07 format tournament taking place at US Nationals this year. Let’s shake things up – here’s the list*:

Pokémon – 22

4 Jirachi DX
3 Mudkip CG 57
1 Marshtomp EM
3 Swampert ex CG
2 Ralts DS
1 Kirlia DS
2 Gardevoir ex DF
1 Gardevoir EM
2 Scyther UF
2 Scizor ex
1 Latios *

Trainers – 27

4 Holon Transceiver

3 Holon Mentor
2 Steven’s Advice
2 TV Reporter
1 Holon Adventurer
1 Holon Scientist
1 Holon Farmer


4 Rare Candy
3 Warp Point
2 Windstorm
1 Switch


3 Giant Stump

Energy – 11

4 Rainbow
4 Special M
3 Warp

*My brother and I were horrible at keeping records of our lists, which is quite sad. This is a list that my brother, Kyle Theaker, and I came up with after extensive discussion.


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Looking very briefly at the format right now reveals a few important things. First, the game looks deceptively open. There are a large number of decks that are performing well, from Yveltal-EX/Garbodor LTR to things like Flygon BCR/Dusknoir BCR/Accelgor DEX. From TheTopCut.net, here are decks that cracked into the top 8 from all Nationals up to June 9th (NXD–FLF):

Now, most people would look at that list and quickly make the claim that this format is more open than anything we have ever had before. While I believe the format is somewhat open, it is actually more narrow than we give it credit for. Look at Yveltal-EX/Garbodor LTR, for instance – it had 30 placements in the top 8 overall! Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX is not far behind at 18, and then Yveltal-EX shows up again in a slightly different deck (basically Yveltal-EX without Garbodor LTR). If we clump Plasma decks together, we get 13 placements in the top 8. After that solid core of decks, though, things drop off dramatically.

So while there are a lot of decks represented so far in the top cuts at Nationals, the truth is that most of what’s doing well falls into three categories: Yveltal decks, Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX decks, and Plasma decks. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because our last big tournament – Spring Regionals – looked almost exactly like this, but with more Blastoise BCR and Emboar LTR decks (Druddigon FLF appears to have done its job at making these decks harder to play).

The second thing you have to realize about the overall metagame is that it’s composed of a lot of threats, and then counters to those threats. These threats are ones we have come to know and love: Garbodor LTR, Pyroar FLF, Accelgor DEX, Raichu XY, Aromatisse XY/Max Potion. Each of these have their obvious counters – Startling Megaphone, Evolution cards, Virizion-EX, and so on. This is basically the story of all the decks that follow our core three or four, if we are looking at Nationals results thus far.

I mention this because it shows how some of these cards are useful in some situations, yet worthless in others. If I go to a tournament with Pyroar FLF, yet everyone is running a counter to that card, I have just wasted a good amount of space in my deck. It’s almost like the Enhanced Hammer argument – the idea that Enhanced Hammer is a great card, so long as I play against the right decks; otherwise, it is purely wasted space.

In all honesty, three Pokémon seem of utmost importance currently: Garbodor LTR, Raichu XY, and Druddigon FLF. Garbodor LTR is giving Yveltal-EX the best support it can get, based on Nationals results thus far. Raichu XY can address Yveltal-EX’s popularity (though I have serious doubts from my own personal testing). And Druddigon FLF has been a silent killer; I can almost guarantee you that many of the decks listed in the results above have Druddigon FLF in their list, but it just wasn’t mentioned.



As I mentioned earlier in this article, some people have more time to dedicate to the Pokémon TCG than others. That’s totally okay, but I think it is important to define exactly the advantage those players have over others from all that playtesting.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that two players go to the same tournament with the same deck – Trevenant XY/Accelgor DEX. One player has been able to playtest nearly every night for the entire season and has attended many tournaments, while the other player has enough Play! Points to attend Nationals, but that’s about it. Based on their deck choice alone, who do you think will have a better placement at the tournament?

If you are having a hard time figuring this out, it’s because the skill level of each player is irrelevant in the face of the deck choice. Playing Trevenant XY/Accelgor DEX is a metagame call, to be used when other players are depending less and less on cards that can cure Special Conditions. While skill can be exercised in the deck-building process, the deck runs on “autopilot” once consistency has been established. To play this deck at Nationals after having put so much time into playtesting would be a mistake, unless of course one played it as a metagame choice.

With that said, there are a few decks I want to cover that will maximize the efforts put forth from players who have playtested extensively this season and have a firm understanding of the game. Let’s get started with a broad category of decks that has a strong presence in the game, but still feels a little out of place.Plasma Decks

One of the few constants in Plasma.

Players have tried to split “Plasma” decks into two camps at this point: the Thundurus-EX/Deoxys-EX/Kyurem-EX (TDK) version of Plasma decks and the “Lugia-EX” version. In reality, Plasma decks are wonderfully versatile and no two lists seem alike. Since decklists for the successful Plasma decks are unavailable, the best we can do is identify the elements most commonly used in tournament play. To me, this is frustrating because there are so many tricks available to Plasma players. Eh, I digress.

The reason Plasma decks rank highly on this list is that they offer so much to the practiced player. Plasma decks are truly patchwork, leaving the effectiveness of the deck in the hands of the player. With so many options available, building the deck alone can be a heavy chore, one which will come easily to the person who has playtested extensively throughout the season.

Players who have experience at this point will also be able to make decisions based on the metagame that other players will overlook. While a less experienced Plasma player will simply find a list online and roll with it, the experienced player might incorporate some wild element into their deck after tedious testing, finding the perfect blend of trusted archetype potential and rogue techs that will lead to success. At last year’s US Nationals, Ryan Sablehaus did exactly this when he put Life Dew into his deck.

While I could offer a list here, I think it would detract from the point I am trying to make. Experienced players at this point probably have more than one Plasma list put together, and me posting something here might actually pull a skilled player back from the breakthrough they were just getting ready to make. So, with that said, let’s move on to…

Flygon BCR/Dusknoir BCR/Accelgor DEX

One of the reasons good players are feared so much is that they take total advantage of mistakes made by others. If, for instance, you fail to play a Supporter card on your turn, you can be sure a skilled opponent will keep it that way (by not playing an N, resisting the urge to Bench Pokémon for fear of Colress, and so on). This is why I recommend any skilled player to consider this deck.

Flygon BCR/Dusknoir BCR/Accelgor DEX (FDA) is an interesting deck. It has always floated around in tier 3 land (decks that have seen almost no tournament success, but might have potential at some point), showing up so seldom that I can count its appearances in the top cut on one hand – one Flygon hand at that. When it has succeeded, though, it did so at the hands of a very skilled player. Kyle Sablehaus recently did well with it at a State Championship, while Russell LaParre cracked into the top 8 twice during State Championships with FDA (clearly, this was his pet deck).

The strategy behind FDA is unusual, which immediately forces other players to adopt an alternative strategy. Lots of players will fail to do this, giving the skilled player an easy win. In other games, the skilled player will know just where to place those damage counters for maximum frustration to the opponent. Basically, FDA in the hands of any player can be annoying, but putting it in the hands of someone who has done their homework can be downright lethal.

Here’s an updated list that is largely based off of one I shared before:

Pokémon – 19

4 Trapinch BCR
1 Vibrava BCR
3 Flygon BCR
2 Duskull FLF
2 Dusknoir BCR
3 Shelmet PLB
2 Accelgor DEX
1 Mewtwo-EX NXD
1 Sigilyph LTR/Suicune PLB

Trainers – 37

3 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress
4 Skyla


4 Ultra Ball
4 Level Ball
4 Rare Candy
3 Float Stone
2 Max Potion
1 Startling Megaphone
1 Sacred Ash
1 Dowsing Machine


4 Tropical Beach

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

Aromatisse XY/Kangaskhan-EX/”Stuff”

The more I think about this deck, the more I want to play it with Lugia-EX and some Plasma Energy, just to throw opponents off and win the Prize card tradeoff. Then, I think about how that tradeoff is unorthodox already since Kangaskhan-EX can Mega Evolve and tank like no other card out there. Then, I think that Landorus-EX makes a lot of sense in here, since it can set up KOs. Then, I have to go help my daughter get ready for bed and forget about all the wonderful things this combo can do.

See, “Aromakhan” is very much like Plasma decks in that you can tailor it to whatever your heart desires. Creativity here is not only preferred, it’s an essential. Just like Plasma decks, this deck will look different from person to person, mainly because of the “toolbox” quality it has – there are many tools available to do the job, it just depends on what you need to work on.

Here’s a shoddy attempt at incorporating Lugia-EX into this thing. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Pokémon – 15

3 Spritzee FLF
2 Aromatisse XY
2 Kangaskhan-EX
2 M Kangaskhan-EX
1 Landorus-EX
1 Lugia-EX
1 Xerneas XY
1 Virizion-EX
1 Xerneas-EX
1 Yveltal-EX

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
2 Colress
3 Skyla
1 Lysandre


4 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
3 Muscle Band
3 Max Potion
2 Startling Megaphone
1 Escape Rope
1 Super Rod
1 Dowsing Machine


3 Fairy Garden

Energy – 11

4 Y
4 Rainbow
2 Plasma
1 Prism

Garchomp DRX 90/Altaria DRX

Many have tried, basically everyone has failed. We all know that there is so much potential in these two cards, and yet it never makes a showing at tournaments. I’m putting this here as a reminder that making this deck work will require lots of practice, proper deckbuilding, and persistence.

Blastoise BCR and Emboar LTR Decks

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Druddigon will be everywhere.

Earlier, I made an assertion that our two favorite Stage 2 decks were falling behind at tournaments because of Druddigon FLF. While this is true, good players can still play around cards like this. Think about Yveltal-EX – players have found a decent counter in the form of Raichu XY, but that has not stopped Yveltal-EX players from totally dominating the game right now. Granted, Druddigon FLF is a Basic Pokémon while Raichu is an Evolved one, but any good Blastoise BCR or Emboar LTR player will change their strategy the moment they see a Druddigon FLF hit the field.

What I – and I think many players – have always liked about these two decks is their raw power after jumping the normally small hurdle of getting a Stage 2 in play. With the threat of Druddigon FLF lurking, it forces players who use these decks to think more strategically. For the skilled player, this might even be a sigh of relief (since many people complain about the “autopilot” nature of these decks).

In a sentence, I think these decks have massive potential, they just need to be piloted by someone willing to not play like a robot.

These decks have been discussed to absurd ends, so I will not provide a list here.

Yveltal-EX Decks

Let’s get the obvious fact out of the way: Yveltal-EX is the best card in the game right now. It boasts so much raw power it’s not even funny. It also has a great Weakness. Raichu XY, while a threat, can be taken out of the picture pretty quickly unless the opponent is sacrificing deck consistency by getting a 3-3 line into their deck. Given the card’s power, it is no wonder that it features in two of the most successful decks of the season: Yveltal-EX/Garbodor LTR and Yveltal-EX/Raichu XY.

With all of this in mind, it reasons that anyone who has playtested extensively with either of these decks has a huge advantage going into Nationals, since they have experience in the mirror match. Yveltal-EX is going to be huge at US Nationals – it has performed incredibly well at other Nationals so far, it doesn’t require Tropical Beach to run effectively, the card itself is inexpensive thanks to the promo version from the tins, and it is relatively easy to play with on the surface.

Knowing how popular Yveltal-EX is going to be, it would do any player good to practice the mirror match a lot. And, as I noted before, some people will have the time to do just that, while others will not.

Pyroar FLF Decks

Let me honest here – I am not a big fan of Pyroar FLF. Having likened it to Mewtwo LV.X, it just looks to me like a card that will succeed under very rare circumstances. After reading through some comments on TheTopCut.net, it looks like this is exactly what happened to one of the players who performed well with Pyroar FLF/Landorus-EX/Mewtwo-EX, as he received a bye in his first round, faced the same auto-win in both the Swiss rounds and top cut, and had his brother concede to him in the top 4.

I am not being critical here, just stating what has to happen in order for Pyroar FLF to be successful. In any case, I feel the same way about Pyroar FLF as I do about Garchomp DRX 90/Altaria DRX; if you can find a way to make it work, it will totally be worth it. Pyroar FLF presents a complete shield against so much in this game. In all honesty, though, its greatest threat is Garbodor LTR, a very real threat right now based on current Nationals results.


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Many readers will fall nicely into this category. Basically, you have some time here and there to play, but you also have other responsibilities to tend to. You might even get a few nights every week to practice, but the word “night” is important because it implies where you are at most of the day – work. If I had to say, I would probably put myself into this category. Work, family, and a little bit of play every now and then.

For this group of people, I would recommend the following decks.

Trevenant XY/Accelgor DEX Decks

Originally, I was going to suggest this deck only to people who have not done much playtesting at all. On second thought, though, there are some impressive things about this deck that those with some playtesting will appreciate.

First of all, there are a few different ways to run this deck. I’m not sure how many people took me seriously when I suggested adding Garbodor LTR to this deck, but in testing I lost very, very few games with it. Some versions of this deck include Dusknoir BCR, some don’t. Some Electrode PLF, some not. Most versions try to fit in Flareon PLF to deal with Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX. Piecing together what you think will be the best list will wake a little bit of time, but for the most part the deck has already been built for you.

Second, the deck is fairly easy to play so long as you know what you’re doing. This is a deck that presents some pretty big consequences for making mistakes, which is why I’m actually hesitant to suggest it to beginners. However, once these holes have been plugged up, things are linear in scope.

The last reason I suggest this deck to this group of players is that it has very good matchups if opponents are not prepared. Yes, Virizion-EX is still a thing, but players are recognizing Paralysis less and less it seems. Also, do not forget that a lone Trevenant XY with a Silver Mirror completely decimates Plasma decks. There might be a lot of potential for this deck at US Nationals, if only people keep their eyes turned elsewhere.

Here’s a rough list on a concept incorporating Pyroar FLF. I haven’t tested it much, so I’m handing this to the community to try out:

Pokémon – 21

4 Shelmet PLB
3 Accelgor DEX
3 Litleo FLF 18
3 Pyroar FLF
2 Phantump XY
2 Trevenant XY
1 Voltorb XY
1 Electrode PLF
1 Jirachi-EX
1 Mew-EX

Trainers – 33

3 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Colress
2 Skyla
2 Lysandre


4 Ultra Ball
2 Level Ball
4 Float Stone
4 Startling Megaphone
2 Muscle Band
2 Silver Mirror
1 Computer Search

Energy – 6

4 Double Colorless
2 Blend GRPD

Blastoise BCR and Emboar LTR Decks

I am mentioning these decks again for players who have had some playtesting experience, though not a lot. Essentially, these are decks that function much the same way that Trevenant XY/Accelgor DEX does in that the deck is fairly easy to play once set up. With the introduction of Druddigon FLF, of course, the strategy has to change a bit, and so it is not so “autopilot” to be boring.

If you choose one of these decks, you will have to playtest very specifically. You will want to test against decks that run Druddigon FLF, and they should be running two copies of it if at all possible. Basically, you want to have a game plan for handling Druddigon FLF. Outside of that, you can relax a little.

I do not want to give the impression that these decks require no skill to play successfully. We do, however, have to be honest in saying that these decks are not terribly complex. They have been discussed time and time again, and you can find a near-perfect list with very little trouble. The real issue here is setting the thing up and responding effectively to certain threats (Druddigon FLF being one of them).


This is a deck that has maintained its presence in the game because of its staggering power, its immunity to Special Conditions, and the fact that Charizard-EX is still trying to figure out whether it’s good or not. When it first appeared at tournaments, I was skeptical about how good it was until I got a chance to play someone who was half decent. There aren’t many attacks a “VirGen” player will use (let’s count them… 1, 2, G Booster), but the deck is annoying as heck to play against. Virizion-EX’s attack here takes the place of Dark Patch in Yveltal-EX decks, and half the time you’re split between attacking Virizion-EX or Genesect-EX.

Like I said, there isn’t a whole lot to this deck, but having just a little bit of experience with it will go a long way. Moreover, there are some interesting lists out there for this deck. Some incorporate Roserade DRX 15, while others include Drifblim lines (both DRX and PLB are used here). There are even some lists out there that are minimal, using just Virizion-EX, Genesect-EX, and Bouffalant DRX.

I only have experience playing against this deck, not with it. As such, I’ll link you to Jon Bristow’s brilliant Underground article that has a solid list included with it.

Greninja XY and Empoleon DEX

Both of these cards seem just like Garchomp DRX 90 in that they have an enormous amount of potential. They both have excellent Abilities and powerful attacks for a single Energy card (okay, Greninja XY’s is not that great, but there’s the Ability to make up for it). Both of them have also seen some tournament success – not a lot, but at least enough to make one optimistic about playing the deck.

I suppose I could make this suggestion to players who have a great deal of experience this season, but those players often seem focused on trying out everything a format has to offer, then making an informed decision afterward. By contrast, players who have limited testing often place their focus on a small number of decks. I have also seen players adopt a pet deck, one they give all their attention to.

That said, I would recommend either a Greninja XY or Empoleon DEX deck to you if you have already put some work into one. With the inclusion of Miltank FLF, both of these cards gain a lot, though it remains to be seen whether or not this combo is enough to overpower the most popular decks of the format. Admittedly, I have not playtested these decks much at all because I remain skeptical about their performance against decks like Yveltal-EX/Garbodor LTR and Plasma variants.

But hey, if you find a way to make it work…


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If you find yourself in a pinch – wanting to do well at US Nationals but having very little experience this season – you’re not alone. Lots of players are in your same position, and picking a deck to play for one of the biggest tournaments in the year can be extremely difficult. Here are my top picks for you.

Trevenant XY/Accelgor DEX

Depending on your matchups, you can do really well with this deck at a big tournament or flop pretty hard. If you manage to crack into the top cut, there is a good chance you will face someone who has prepared for your matchup. This will probably knock you out of the tournament, but you would be surprised at how often players neglect to prepare for certain matchups at big tournaments. Besides, making it to the top cut in itself is an achievement.

This is a deck that is very linear in nature, and while you will face situations that require you to change up your strategy some, for the most part it’s all about setting up your deck. This works very well for someone who has not had the time to invest in Pokémon this season that others have.


I talked about this deck before for those who have had limited playtesting, but I think it’s one that people without any experience can pick up and get the hang of pretty quickly. There are only 2-3 attacks you will use during the game unless you add in some other attackers, and the strategy is pretty linear.

If you plan on playing this deck, I suggest you consider accepting the auto-loss against a deck like Charizard/Pyroar. Even if you add in some cards to handle this deck, there’s a really great chance you will not win. The cards you added in will just wasted space.

Yveltal-EX/Raichu XY

Yes, I realize I told skilled players earlier to choose this option since they’ll be able to master the mirror match. For those who haven’t been able to playtest much at all this season, though, you at least know how to play and have some tournament experience (assuming you have collected your 10 Play! Points in order to play at US Nationals). Consider riding the wave of success this deck has had so far.

If you end up in a mirror match against an experienced player, you will likely lose. Oh! Unless you are playing Yveltal-EX/Raichu XY and not Garbodor. See, by playing Yveltal-EX/Raichu XY, you gain an advantage in any mirror match with someone playing Garbodor (I consider this a mirror match since your deck relies very little on Abilities). I know, Garbodor is a great card that can absolutely devastate players who are ill-prepared. For this reason alone, you might want to try a 1-1 line, but otherwise, focus on keeping your opponent’s Yveltal-EXs silenced by using Raichu.

Definitely NOT Blastoise BCR or Emboar LTR Decks

These decks have been around for years now, and so some players who played more last season than this might reason that it’s still a good time to break out the ol’ Stage 2 Energy accelerating monster. I would advise heavily against this. You might think that Druddigon FLF won’t be too big an issue once one goes down, but trust me on this, you’ll cringe when you find that you are limited to attacking with only certain, lackluster Pokémon.

If you think, for instance, that you can just attack with Keldeo-EX, let’s look at how this will play out. One of the decks most able to tech in a Druddigon FLF is anything with Yveltal-EX in it, right? So, you stack Energy on a Keldeo-EX in order to breeze past the threat of Druddigon FLF, right up until an Yveltal-EX lands a 1HKO on you. After that, the only Deluging you’ll be doing is with tears.

So, stray away from this option unless you absolutely plan on cramming like crazy before the big tournament begins.


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Hopefully, this article has given you the direction you needed in preparation for US Nationals. Deck choice is an interesting thing, as I see many people choose decks that do not accurately reflect their skill level. It is totally okay to admit that you haven’t got the time you would like to spend on the Pokémon TCG. If this is the case, though, your deck choice should take that into account. Alternatively, some people who test a lot choose decks that nearly anyone can run. It’s like if a baker bought refrigerated cookie dough instead of making cookies from scratch – sure, it’ll taste perfect, but it’s still pre-made. Mmmm… cookies…

So listen, don’t be so hard on yourself if you haven’t spent every waking hour preparing for US Nationals. Choose a deck that will fit your needs. And if you have prepared like crazy, give yourself the credit you deserve! Choose a deck that will display your talent and expertise. If you end up playing a “lesser” deck because of a meta-call, though, that’s totally understandable. Go for it!

Drop me a message and let me know how you liked this article. Also, don’t forget to give the article a “like”! If you have questions about the crazy Scythe deck my brother came up, ask away. I look forward to seeing everyone at Nationals.

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