Scouting Ahead

Early 2014-2015 Standard Format Deck Discussion

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With Nationals in the rear-view mirror, players are left with a lot to reflect on. For some, it’s “What do these results mean for my Worlds/Grinder deck?” and for others, it’s “What do these results mean for our upcoming format?” Many Underground writers are focusing on the former, which is why I want to spend my time focusing on the latter.

I think one of my greatest strengths is my deck-building ability. Heading into new formats and the release of new sets, I’m able to identify the top cards and best ways to build around them. Last month I began to cover the 2014-2015 Standard format and this month I want to continue that commentary. I plan on looking at several new decks and revisiting a couple I discussed last month. When Fall Regionals roll around, I want to be ahead of the competition and I want to make sure you are as well.

[Editor’s Note: TPCi just this afternoon released information about the 2014-2015 season formats. This article was written with anticipation of the Standard format being PLS-on, but it is instead going to be BCR-on. Thankfully the information presented here is largely unaffected by this announcement and bits have been updated to incorporate cards that were not believed to be available.]

Table of Contents

Lessons Learned from Nationals

1. SixPrizes is a really great place for information.

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Be an attentive reader and you’ll find valuable information!

I don’t know if you guys all caught this or not, but the deck that won US Nationals was published on SixPrizes just a few weeks before the tournament. Stephen Lewis wrote an article about the evolution of Big Basics and the deck was originally piloted to an 11th place finish at the UK National Championships by Luke Kirkham.

2. is really good… or is it?

By far the biggest surprise of the tournament was just how dominant Pyroar was. I think a lot of people underestimated it and in turn underprepared for it. I strongly advocated a 3-3 line, but in my lists I always tried to find a partner for Pyroar. The full 4-4 Pyroar line alongside only slim numbers of Charizard and Mewtwo was genius. With Furious Fists pushing Basic decks like Lucario and , I expect Pyroar to remain a strong archetype next season.

Although I don’t want to discredit Pyroar’s recent success, I feel one of the main reasons it did so well was because lists weren’t prepared for it and players hadn’t practiced playing against it. Pyroar is one of those matchups where the more you test it and the better idea you have of your opponent’s list, the better the matchup becomes. I’ve heard several stories of how players walked straight into a Mewtwo in this matchup and that won’t happen as often next season.

3. Ross Cawthon has still got the rogue touch.

On the Pokémon website I caught an article about Ross Cawthon and what he played at Nationals. Sadly a list wasn’t provided, but he played a cool rogue Landorus-EX/Raichu XY/Drifblim DRX/Reshiram LTR deck. Alex Hill gives some detail on it in his tournament report. The strategy of the deck was to abuse Weakness by choosing Pokémon that are solid attackers against the popular decks in the format. This certainly isn’t any sort of new strategy, but as a majority of the meta decks are Weak to four main types (Fighting, Lightning, Psychic, and Fire), I think this is a strategy that we’ll see carry over to next season. While the format is diverse, the Weakness of the decks is somewhat narrow.

Addressing Extended Format Concerns

Next year, Regional-level and above events will have day 1 played with the Standard format. On the second day, the five Swiss rounds plus top 8 will be played with the Extended format of Black & White-on. I personally am a big fan of this change since it forces players to show skill with two different decks in two different formats. It’s almost like having two tournaments to decide one winner, not to mention that it will help reduce advantages or disadvantages of scouting and live coverage (if Pokémon starts covering Regional-level events). I think it would be pretty cool to see the top-deck lists from day 1, especially since they would have almost no bearing on day 2.

I have heard some people voice concern over the Extended format and I would like to address some of the issues that I’ve heard:

A. Eels will be too dominant, forcing players to buy Tropical Beach.

I think people are giving Eels’ dominance in Japan a bit too much credit this time. I know Eels has been a dominant deck in their meta, but I don’t think it will have as big of an impact in ours. Fighting type has a ton of support in this upcoming set and I expect to see a lot of players turn to Fighting decks. A strong Fighting deck combined with high counts of Lysandre and 1 or 2 Druddigon FLF would be a tough matchup for Eels.

Second of all, I also expect to be extremely popular, paired with both Landorus-EX and Yveltal-EX. Not to mention Pyroar is also a big threat for Eels unless it’s properly teched for. There is just so much popular hate out there for Eels for it to be the undisputed BDIF. At the very least, players are going to have a lot of options for decks that can go 50-50 or better with Eels.

B. It’s too daunting of a task for newer players to collect cards from multiple formats.

This won’t be as big of a hurdle as players are making it out to be because of the insane power creep the game has experienced over the last few years. Most of the cards that players will need for this format will come from the later half of the Black & White block. Most of the older cards that could actually see play, like PlusPower, are cards that can be picked up for extremely cheap. I would actually argue, moving forward, that the Extended format helps protect people’s investments in new cards. Cards like N, Strong Energy, and Mewtwo-EX will hold reasonable value for quite some time.

If you’re really not interested in investing money in a format you might only play in a couple of times a year, something to consider might be just borrowing a deck from a friend who didn’t make top cut or “renting” a deck. I would assume that if a player did not make day 2 they might be willing to rent out their Extended deck to another player. Maybe you want to play RayEels, but don’t want to spend the money to have Tropical Beach. It would be much easier for you to just spend $30 or $40 and rent a full RayEels deck. I could be wrong, but I feel there is a market here that some players will take advantage of and others will gladly accept.

C. They are forcing this new format on us.

Well, honestly, yeah they are, but if they didn’t make day 2 Extended, it wouldn’t draw the attention that TPCi wants. Let me reinforce that I think it’s a positive change and try playing the format before passing judgement.

Donphan/Trevenant

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When it comes to deck building, two of my favorite things are rogue decks that work, and using underrated Pokémon to beat my opponent. To start off, here’s a unique rogue deck that encompasses both of these attributes. The thing that really struck me about this deck was its combination of two Pokèmon that have basically been written off by a vast majority of the playerbase.

Pokémon – 16

4 Phantump XY
3 Trevenant XY
3 Phanpy PLS
3 Donphan PLS
1 Snorlax PLS
1 Sigilyph LTR
1 Keldeo-EX

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
3 N
3 Korrina
2 Lysandre
4 Roller Skates
2 Bicycle

 

3 Muscle Band
3 Float Stone
3 Ultra Ball
1 Hypnotoxic Laser
1 Professor’s Letter

1 Red Card
1 Silver Bangle

1 Startling Megaphone

1 Sacred Ash

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 7

4 Strong
3 Fighting

Let’s start off by breaking down the main Pokémon in the deck:

4-3 Trevenant XY

The two biggest weaknesses this card faced during the 2013-2014 season were being Weak to Dark Pokémon and Lysandre getting around its Ability. Nobody can argue that stopping your opponent from playing Items isn’t broken. With both Sableye DEX and Dark Patch rotating, the popularity of Dark decks will be gone. As for Lysandre, players are playing such low counts that they might only be able to get around Trevenant once or twice per game. Unlike Accelgor, this deck doesn’t have those weak and fragile board states that a single Lysandre could easily wreck.

3-3 Donphan PLS

I actually had to look up what Donphan did, and like most players my copies of the card are sitting somewhere in the Troll and Toad warehouse right now. It’s a Stage 1 that hits for 40 damage for a single Fighting Energy before switching back to the Bench. It really isn’t that impressive by itself, but when we combine it with all of this new Fighting support we have, we start hitting some pretty decent numbers. The main idea of the deck is to 2HKO any Pokémon while switching back to Trevenant to keep the opponent constantly Item locked. Making 2-for-1 Prize tradeoffs should make for an easy race against EX decks.

4 Roller Skates, 2 Bicycle

I really wanted to give the deck some serious speed, so I sort of based the Item lineup off of Pyroar’s. You really want to establish that Item lock as early as possible and of course start putting damage on the board quickly. If you’re playing against any sort of Stage 2 deck, they are probably playing only 1 or 2 Lysandre and then just 1 or 2 copies of their Stage 1. Nearly all Stage 2 decks are going to rely on using Rare Candy to get from their Basic to the Stage 2. A turn 2 Item lock can almost assuredly win you the game against a Stage 2 deck.

The Damage Modifiers

We all know that 40 damage and switching to the Bench alone won’t win you games, but how about 80 damage or 100 damage? We play 3 Muscle Band to give us an instant +20 damage. Going along with that, we play 3 copies of Fighting Stadium to add 20 more damage when attacking Pokémon-EX.

Originally I was up in the air about Fighting Stadium, but I feel we have a strong Stage 2 matchup, so running 3 cards that are only good against Pokémon-EXs is fine. Also, 80 damage is plenty to 2HKO a Stage 2, but 90 is needed to 2HKO most EXs. I also opt to play 1 copy of Silver Bangle because it can be easily searched out by Korrina. That extra 10 damage really does matter (40 + 30 + 20 = 90) and while I don’t want to devote too much space to something that can only hit EXs, I do like the 1 copy.

Speaking of an extra 10 damage mattering, I also play 1 copy of Hypnotoxic Laser to help make sure I can 2HKO EXs. The 4 copies of Strong Energy might not be Items, but they are a quick +20 damage for Donphan. In total that’s 12 cards we run (or 1/5-of the deck) that can increase Donphan’s damage output. It’s very easy for the deck to reach that magic 80/90 damage number.

1 Red Card

The 1 copy of Red Card is something that I want to test with the rotation of Tropical Beach. The deck shuts off Items and doesn’t rely on having a large Bench, so early game your opponent can’t rely on Colress to draw them out of Red Card.

Closing Thoughts

The biggest weakness of the deck is that you really have no way to 1HKO and are forced to 2HKO basically everything. This puts you in an almost unwinnable game state if you fall too far behind. The deck has pretty even matchups against the format, but it relies heavily on having a strong start. I really like decks that have come-from-behind potential and that’s something this deck lacks.

However, the hit-and-run concept is something that has been very successful in the past. I don’t know if I’m overselling or underselling the deck, but at the very least, if a player flips over a Phanpy, don’t instantly think “easy win.”

Speed Plasma

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The second deck I want to discuss is a Speed Plasma deck that I was kind of working on before the dominance of Pyroar at Nationals. In my opinion it’s really not worth teching in a Pyroar counter, so I see the deck as a high-risk/high-reward play.

In my last article I made the comment that Maintenance was a self-replacing 1-for-1 card. Adam pointed out to me that it wasn’t a “free” 1-for-1 since you did have to send 2 cards back to your deck. My instant thought was sending cards back to the deck isn’t always a bad thing. For example, sending back key cards before playing Professor Juniper can be good.

I started trying to think of decks that could benefit from actually sending cards back and I quickly turned to Plasma. Maintenance combos very well with both Bicycle and Colress Machine, and a speed Plasma deck loves playing 1-for-1 cards that draw through the deck.

Pokémon – 10

4 Deoxys-EX
3 -EX
2 Thundurus-EX PLF
1 Absol PLF

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 Colress
3 Shauna

1 Lysandre
4 Roller Skates
3 Bicycle

2 Maintenance

 

4 Colress Machine

3 Team Plasma Ball

3 Muscle Band
3 Switch
1 Escape Rope
1 Startling Megaphone
1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 13

4 Plasma
4 Double Colorless
4 Rainbow
1 Lightning

If you’re willing to suck up the loss to Pyroar I think the deck has a lot of potential as it can easily put 170 damage on the board like nothing. I mean Ryan Sabelhaus played Plasma with no Pyroar counter to a top 16 US Nationals finish in a field full of Pyroar, so maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to write it off.

0 N

All too often players just simply slap 4 Ns in a deck without really taking the deck into consideration. Like Kyle mentioned in his last article, Plasma (especially a speed Plasma deck like this) takes Prizes so fast and so early, it’s hard to time your own Ns right. Having cards yourself is almost always better than your opponent not having cards because if you Prize rush your opponent, you should always come out on top.

Closing Thoughts

With the rotation, Enhanced Hammer will be rotating out. If we don’t get a reprint in one of the upcoming starter decks, this is a deck I really plan on strongly testing for Fall Regionals. The meta is filled with 170 HP EXs and that’s what Lugia really preys on. You’re at a bit of the mercy of the pairings to dodge Pyroar, but if you do, day 2 is nearly guaranteed.

Empoleon/Miltank

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Initially when I was analyzing the new format, I overlooked Empoleon. I guess mainly because everybody wrote Empoleon off in general, but Ishaan’s recent success with the deck at Nationals has got me to take another look at its viability heading into our new format.

The synergy of the deck goes a lot deeper than you can see with a quick glance. Many of the threats that Empoleon matches up poorly against, like Raichu, are well countered by Miltank. Also, many of the threats that Miltank matches up poorly against, like Fighting Pokémon, Empoleon counters well. The beefy 140 HP of Empoleon and the low-cost attack allow it to match up quite well against the very hyped (and with good reason) Lucario/Mewtwo.

Let’s take a look at my list, which I’ll admit was slightly adapted from Ishaan’s winning Seniors list:

Pokémon – 20

4 Piplup LTR RC6
2 Prinplup LTR
4 Empoleon PLF
2 Duskull FLF
1 Dusclops FLF
2 Dusknoir PLB

3 Miltank FLF
1 Jirachi-EX
1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper

4 N
4 Skyla
3 Colress
1 Lysandre
1 Pokémon Fan Club

 

4 Ultra Ball

1 Evosoda
4 Rare Candy
3 Muscle Band
2 Startling Megaphone
1 Sacred Ash
1 Energy Retrieval

1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 6

6 Water

I want to start out by saying that many people seem to discredit a deck just because it is a “Seniors deck.” I think this is a horrible attitude to have and decks should be looked at on a deck-to-deck basis. As a whole, the Masters Division is tougher because the overall skill level is much higher while the Seniors Division is dominated by a handful of really good Seniors. The best Seniors always age up just fine into Masters, though. We see this year after year and Henry Prior was a great example of this.

The Pokémon Lineup

I kept Ishaan’s original Pokémon lineup card-for-card, but opted to add in a second Prinplup to help make up for the lack of Level Ball. I promote originally all the time, but I also advocate admitting when somebody else gets it right and Ishaan got it right. Pokémon-wise Empoleon didn’t gain anything from Furious Fists and only lost the Dark Explorers Piplup.

Lost Trainers

Heading into the new format, Empoleon lost two major cards. The first, of course, being Tropical Beach and the second being Super Rod. The loss of Tropical Beach is actually more manageable with Empoleon than other Stage 2 decks because of Diving Draw. Normally one Empoleon leads to another and then another. By the time 2 or 3 Empoleon are set up, there really isn’t a whole lot of need to Tropical Beach even in the late game with an opponent’s N to 1.

1 Pokémon Fan Club

Losing Level Ball was another blow to the deck that doesn’t get the same attention as Tropical Beach or Super Rod. Upping the Ultra Ball count to 4 was a pretty easy fix for 1 Level Ball, and over the second one I played a Pokémon Fan Club. It’s nice that it’s searchable with Jirachi and you can grab 2 Pokémon. Especially early game, you can search out 2 Piplup, or 2 Miltank, or 1 Basic and 1 Exeggcute. Against aggro rush decks, dropping 2 copies of Piplup leaves you less vulnerable to Lysandre.

1 Sacred Ash, 1 Energy Retrieval

I decided to replace the 2 copies of Super Rod with 1 copy of Sacred Ash and 1 copy of Energy Retrieval. The deck needs a way to recover both Pokémon and Energy, and this was the best way to do that with the cards we have available.

With only 6 Energy in the deck, it’s hard to Super Rod the Energy back in and then try to draw into them again. Skyla can grab Retrieval and put the 2 Energies right back into the hand. With 1 Sacred Ash you can put back a full Empoleon line and 2 Miltank or something along those lines. This setup is definitely not better, but there are some cool plays you can make.

1 Evosoda

This is my other desperate attempt to replace the loss of Level Ball. It’s just one more search card that helps rush Empoleon early game or help set up Dusknoir mid/late game. It’s not Level Ball, but it’s not as bad as players are making it out to be.

Closing Thoughts

As far as Stage 2 decks go in the new format, Empoleon is at the top of the list. Losing Tropical Beach was too much of a blow for a lot of Stage 2 decks, but seems to be only a small hiccup for Empoleon. I really like how the deck can make favorable tradeoffs against EX decks. After all of the losses that Yveltal suffered, there really isn’t an EX in the format that can 1HKO Empoleon easily.

A big concern of mine is playing against Plasma, which I consider a near auto-loss. A second concern of mine is playing out of bad hands. It’s much easier for Basic decks to draw out of bad hands than Stage 2 decks.

Pyroar

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I don’t really see the Speed Pyroar deck changing a whole lot conceptually after the rotation. We’re going to see the same basic strategy of running a thick Pyroar line and then a very thin Mewtwo and Charizard line. Running a speed-based Trainer lineup is also essential to getting multiple Pyroar in play quickly. One thing I do want to note is Pramawat did not run Mewtwo to deal with other Mewtwos, but rather to deal with things that could load up Energy to KO Pyroar such as Delphox XY or Blastoise PLB.

Pokémon – 11

4 Litleo FLF 18
4 Pyroar FLF
2 Mewtwo-EX
1 Charizard-EX FLF 12

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

3 Shauna
3 Blacksmith
2 Lysandre
4 Roller Skates
3 Bicycle

 

4 Ultra Ball
3 Pokémon Catcher
3 Muscle Band
3 Switch
1 Dowsing Machine

Energy – 12

8 Fire
4 Double Colorless

I was not lucky enough to have a chance to talk with Michael about his thoughts on Pyroar in the upcoming format, but I think I’ve done a good job transitioning the list.

2 Mewtwo-EX

I expect Mewtwo to dramatically rise in popularity and Lucario is already set to see massive play. I don’t want to get in straightup Mewtwo wars with the opponent because I know I’ll end up on the losing side. What I don’t want though, is to worry about Prizing a Mewtwo when I really need it or not being able to find it.

A quick Lucario-EX might pose a threat to the deck, but the real danger is when the opponent drops a M Lucario-EX. You simply can’t waste 3 turns and 3 Pyroar to knock it out. You have to be able to respond to M Lucario-EX with Mewtwo-EX, ideally the turn after your opponent plays it down.

0 Tropical Beach

When you look at the deck, Tropical Beach was a very subtle card that played a very important purpose. Having a strong Stadium in the deck that added consistency was key. Giving up the turn to attack was minor, especially since putting early pressure on the opponent isn’t important. With Virbank being very popular, running a counter Stadium to bump it was helpful with math.

Like all decks, Pyroar will move on without Tropical Beach, but don’t assume that just because Pyroar is a Stage 1 deck that Beach didn’t play a key role.

3 Pokémon Catcher

Michael ran a 4-2 Catcher/Lysandre split in his list and it played really well for him. I would love to run a 4th Pokémon Catcher in the list, but I made the cut due to space. The deck now playing Dowsing Machine over Computer Search helps make up for the 1 less copy of Pokémon Catcher.

3 Switch

Playing only 3 copies of Switch instead of 4 was the other cut I made to the list for space. I think I actually miss the 4th copy of Switch more than I do the 4th copy of Pokémon Catcher. Switch makes big plays with Mewtwo-EX or Charizard-EX. Hypnotoxic Laser is one of the few cards that Basic decks run that can harm Pyroar. Instantly getting out of Sleep or not wasting Energy retreating to get out of Poison is essential.

Closing Thoughts

I imagine that Pyroar is going to be an archetype that’s going to see a decent amount of play next season. It’s a deck that I was very quick to build, but it’s not a deck that I see myself pulling the trigger on at a big tournament. Players aren’t going to underestimate it anymore and all serious players will have tested against it and know how to play the matchup. The list and the strategy just don’t have the surprise factor they had heading into Nationals.

My advice is to everybody would be to take my list and build the deck. Spend time playing the deck so you understand the strategy, the tricks, the options, and what exactly goes through a Pyroar player’s head. Than take time testing your top choices against Pyroar to make sure you have at least a 50-50 matchup against the deck. Unless you’re expecting a very narrow meta or believe that people will continue to be unprepared for Pyroar (both of which could happen), I would not suggest playing it at a large event.

Revisiting Dragonite

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It made my day when early this week I was able to score pre-orders on three full art Dragonite-EXs for only $15 each from Troll and Toad. It probably also made the day of several people around me when I yelled “Yes!” loudly in our break room after finally navigating the payment screens on my very small smart phone. My recent purchase has got me even more hyped for a deck that doesn’t really need any more.

In my last article, I really think I was on the right track with a lot of my choices in my Dragonite deck. Energy acceleration and having an answer to Pyroar both need to be components of a successful list. The one big piece of information that I lacked last month was that we were going to be getting a reprint of Super Scoop Up in Furious Fists. Any fans of the new Dragonite should be ecstatic about this because it’s a huge boost to the deck and an instant 4-of in any list. As a result, I’ve decided to come back to the drawing board and update the list.

Pokémon – 17

3 Feebas FLF
3 Milotic FLF
3 Litleo FLF 18
3 Pyroar FLF

3 Dragonite-EX
1 Jirachi-EX
1 Virizion-EX

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Colress
3 Shauna
1 Lysandre

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Super Scoop Up
3 Muscle Band
2 Startling Megaphone
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Energy Retrieval
1 Scoop Up Cyclone

Energy – 12

6 Grass
3 Lightning
3 Fire

Here are the changes:

4 Super Scoop Up

Finding 4 spots in the deck wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Switching the 2 copies of Cassius to 2 copies of Super Scoop Up was a pretty straightforward move. The only other cards in the deck I really didn’t consider essential were the Suicune and Water Energy. In many cases, Pyroar and Suicune do the exact same thing. I ran the Suicune as an early wall I could throw Active while setting up and give me typing against Fire decks. The wall strategy was really solid, but even in the last list I should have run Sigilyph LTR and a Psychic Energy. In this new format, Psychic matches up much better against the format (Mewtwo, Lucario, etc.) than Water does.

If this was a deck that you were on the fence about before, I would take another look at it now. Super Scoop Up singlehandedly might have brought this deck to the higher levels of tier 1. It’s certainly not a deck that you want to be unprepared for or have no experience playing against.

1 Virizion-EX

Hypnotoxic Laser is going to see a ton of play and it was a bad call on my part to not include Virizion in the orginal list. My line of thinking was that the Sleep flips didn’t matter because I could drop another Dragonite to get out of it. The problem with this is I had to drop a Dragonite every time my opponent played a Laser. With a single Virizion, I can prevent the opponent from even being able to play Laser and perhaps let my Dragonite stay in the Active position another turn.

Improving the Pyroar Matchup

Even running our own copies of Pyroar, the matchup is still insanely tough. I’ve been working on a couple of options to help improve the matchup that I would like to share with you. The first is upping the Pyroar line to 4-4 and lowering the Milotic line to 3-3. This would force a small shift in the Energy lineup as well and probably want me to run a Sacred Ash.

The other option I’ve been considering would be to add a single Water Energy to the deck so Milotic would be able to attack Pyroar as well. Regardless, it’s still going to be a tough matchup because you’re competing against a deck more streamlined and focused around Pyroar than you are.

Revisiting Lucario/Mewtwo

korrina lucarioBulbapedia

Having another month to spend on the list and results from Nationals to reflect on, I’ve realized I need to make some changes because:

  • Pyroar is going to see more play than I originally thought.
  • The original list wasn’t equipped well enough for mirror.

Taking these factors into consideration, I redesigned my list and made some major changes:

Pokémon – 11

3 Lucario-EX
2 M Lucario-EX
3 Mewtwo-EX
2 Landorus FFI
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N
3 Colress
3 Korrina
4 Lysandre

 

3 Muscle Band

3 Switch
2 Ultra Ball

1 Escape Rope

1 Focus Sash
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Dowsing Machine

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

5 Fighting
4 Strong
4 Double Colorless

Let me go ahead and discuss my changes:

4-1 Lucario to 3-2 Lucario

I’m going to start off by saying that I really don’t want to drop the 4th Lucario because it’s so crucial getting Lucario Active T1. I’m going to test some different options starting with dropping the 4th Lysandre for the 4th Lucario. Putting the second Mega Lucario into the deck was a direct response to the popularity of Pyroar at Nationals. Against a dedicated Pyroar deck (4-4 line), playing only 1 Mega Lucario makes the matchup slightly unfavorable, however, the second Mega shifts the match to favorable/slightly favorable.

4 Hypnotoxic Laser, 2 Virbank City Gym

I cleaned out a lot of the 1-ofs to make room for the 6 spots needed for Virbank/Laser. Fighting Stadium was too situational and felt more like a counter Gym than a protective card in the deck. Laser is great for getting that early damage and hitting magic numbers both early game and late game. I expect mirror to be quite common and you always need that answer to Focus Sash. On top of all of the other pros of Hypnotoxic Laser, it can also be searched out with Korrina.

1 Escape Rope

If you’re really worried about Pyroar, messing with the Escape Rope count might be something that you want to test. Getting those cheap early Prizes against Pyroar is huge and it’s extremely important to try and stop the opponent from setting up multiple Pyroar. Early Escape Rope can be great at forcing Pyroar out of the Active spot to score a KO on one of their Benched Pokémon. This of course doesn’t work, though, if they have multiple Pyroar in play.

1 Focus Sash

This is another change I’m not quite sure how I feel about. Right now I see Focus Sash more as a Hail Mary play in the late game when my opponent has burned through a lot of resources and might not have the answer to it. Early game you’re going to want to be attaching Muscle Band and your opponent is more likely to have an answer to it. You can never truly rely on Focus Sash, so it’s dangerous to make those “all in” plays with it.

I ended up dropping the 2nd copy for a 3rd copy of Switch, which brings the deck’s total number of switching cards up to 4. This helps improve our openings and leaves us less vulnerable to Hypnotoxic Laser.

Playing Against Pyroar

In the new format I really don’t see Pyroar running Sacred Ash or Max Revive. Michael’s original list didn’t play Super Rod, so I just don’t see the deck adding in a weaker version in the new format. This means Knocking Out a Litleo will lead to you needing to deal with 1 less Pyroar. If the opponent has Pyroar Active, in most cases I’m just simply going to ignore it and Lysandre up a Benched Litleo.

The deck has so many damage modifiers that putting 70 damage on the board can usually be done with one Energy and certainly for two Energy. This leaves you time to power up a Lucario-EX on the Bench, and when the time is right, drop the Mega Lucario to push through the last 1 or 2 Pyroar your opponent has. With 220 hit points, Pyroar doesn’t pose much of a threat hitting for only 90 damage a turn. The real threat here is an opposing Mewtwo-EX. It definitely creates some interesting situations where ideally you will be ahead on Prizes with early pressure and constant Lysandre.

The main point here is you can’t let your opponent stream Pyroar against you. Knocking Out a Litleo for the deck is a much easier task than Knocking Out a Pyroar.

Alternate Ideas

I’ve really only been working on the list I’ve posted above, but I’ve started theorying out other ways to play Lucario. Here are a few of my other ideas I’d like to share with you:

Lucario-EX/Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor LTR

The list would follow a very similar path to the current Landorus/Garbodor/Mewtwo deck. I just don’t think that Garbodor is that great right now and there really aren’t any Abilities that you have to shut off. The second Mega helps handle Pyroar enough in my opinion, and with the loss of Tropical Beach most Stage 2 decks took a pretty big hit. Having that fast and consistent start can be almost as detrimental as Garbodor.

In my opinion you have to sacrifice too much to fit in Garbodor and your mirror match takes a huge hit.

Lucario-EX/Mewtwo-EX/Drifblim DRX

I didn’t even think about this until I was reading the article Pokémon wrote about Ross and his Nationals adventure. Ross played a Landorus-EX/Raichu XY/Drifblim DRX/Reshiram LTR deck at Nationals this year and finished with a solid day 2 finish. So many decks in the format run 4 Double Colorless Energy, and with Strong and Herb Energy making their debut, Special Energy are going to be all over the place. Drifblim would make a solid game finisher against a lot of decks in the format. Not to mention that your mirror match would be insanely favorable. Even against a matchup like Pyroar, if you can get 2 DCE in their discard pile, you can 1HKO a Pyroar with a Laser.

[Editor’s Note: Drifblim DRX will still be legal as it was reprinted as promo BW64.]

A simple 1-1 line could be a great game ender or at the very least be something on the board your opponent is forced to deal with. A thicker 2-2 line could be viewed more like Raichu is now as a strong counter card that can make great 2-for-1 trades.

There is a ton of potential for this deck, but I want to wait until we get some more information before I start going too wild with the idea. Rumors are that we are supposed to get a reprint of Enhanced Hammer in either the upcoming set or a starter deck since Enhanced Hammer was in the Japanese set.

Conclusion

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I hoped you enjoyed the article because I really enjoyed writing it. If you’re still preparing for the Grinder and Worlds, then don’t worry because SixPrizes will still have a lot of great Underground content going in that direction. Since I’m focusing on that first Regionals coming up in October, that’s what I feel like I’m most confident in giving material for. The more I dive into the new format, the more I’m excited about all of the possibilities.

Right now I’m working on Lucario the most, but want to keep my options open as I keep exploring this new format. As for the Extended format, I’m going to start working on Landorus/Mewtwo/Garbodor, Yveltal/Garbodor, and Eels. I think the format has a lot of room to be open, but players really need to make sure that their deck can handle Eels. With all of the hype flying around, I expect it to be a played deck at least at the first Regionals until we can kind of see how the meta shapes up.

I would love to hear your thoughts and what you have been working on in the forums. Of course if you have a secret project you would prefer to talk about privately, feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to help.

Jay Hornung


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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