Circle of Life

Worlds Outlook, What We Lose, Furious Fists Review, and Super Secret Plant Deck
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My slogan needs work.

Hello again ladies, gentlemen, and children! (I feel like I need to develop some kind of intro and closing catchphrase for all of my articles to brand myself, but I’m coming up at a loss here. I’ll keep trying, guys!) A lot has been happening in the Poké-world lately. We’ve witnessed the prerelease of the newest Fighting-themed expansion, Furious Fists. We have ourselves a new format starting September 3rd, with the rotation of all sets prior to Boundaries Crossed. While this is a fairly small cut, it will still have pretty significant implications on how the format looks going format.

The last of the National Championships have come and gone, and we’re left with the resultant metagame going into the World Championships for those lucky enough to have earned an invite. Of those who have not, some will try their luck at the Last Chance Qualifier and hope to grind their way through 6 or more win-or-go-home rounds to earn their chance to compete in Worlds.

We’re at the point in the year where players are going to have different interests regarding the game. For most players, their season has ended and they have their sights set toward the fall. To those going to DC next week, the most important few days of their season still looms. I’ll be going over what these players will likely be facing off against while offering my personal opinions on what I believe are good calls for the events.

So, in a way, this article will be split into two sections. Well, I guess it will be more like three sections, as I’ll cover the Worlds metagame, the impact of what is lost from the rotation, and then close with a set review for Furious Fists.

Table of Contents

Worlds Outlook

lion king circle of lifelynnegolodner.com

The big story coming out of US Nationals was the popularity and success of Pyroar. I talked about how I felt Pyroar was not a particularly good card in my last article. I predicted it would not see a lot of play and not do well. On one hand, I have to eat a bit of crow because I was wrong. I actually stand by the fact I do not think the card is very good. It is extremely dependent on what you are playing against. The general consensus going into Nationals was that Pyroar was too big of a gamble to use. The card didn’t exactly light the international Nationals scene on fire either. All signs going into US Nats pointed away from a big Pyroar presence.

There is a point where extremely gimmicky decks get ignored or disregarded so heavily that they suddenly find themselves with a lot of very vulnerable matchups to pick on. In Pyroar’s case, when it finds those decks, it actually wins those matches almost uncontested. One of the most popular decks at US Nationals was Kyurem-based Plasma decks. Those decks just cannot beat Pyroar. That’s a large cut of the field you auto-win against. I was way off on my feelings on Pyroar, but I feel like I hit the nail on the head pretty well regarding Yveltal/Garbodor, as that particular configuration of Dark deck showed up in much smaller numbers than originally predicted. As that deck cuts Garbodor, it also cuts its chances against Pyroar. Virizion/Genesect players seem to be diehard devotees to their archetype, because despite it being a fairly sketchy choice for the event, it showed up in decent numbers as well.

Plasma decks, using Laser, find themselves with a very favorable matchup against Yveltal. As the decks shifted from Lugia-EX and were able to hit the 170 mark with Thundurus-EX due to Laser, the whole matchup got flipped on its head. Pyroar just loved seeing an influx of auto-wins brought on by the Yveltal-led inbreeding of the format.

Most formats are cyclical. Decks are good based on what decks were good going into the event, as you can build to counter what did best the previous event. You can then go next level and build to beat the decks you expect will show up to beat THOSE decks. Of course, if people aren’t on the page you put them on, and instead show up with the previous week’s decks, you wind up having put yourself in a bad position with your attempt at an advanced choice. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother making these types of gambits because it can be risky. If you play ANY level of the metagame cycle, and the level that preys on that tends to be the one most people make their deck choice out of, you are in bad shape.

As a result, ignoring the thought process is a terrible idea. Even if you stick with the deck you know, or the one you were using the week before, there is no excuse not to micro-analyze how the decks you’ll play against may change. I know I am a bit repetitive with this as I address it in all of my articles, but this is such an important thing to understand when heading into events. If you get good at second-guessing the flow of the metagame cycle, you can give yourself a much better chance to win an event.

Pyroar found a spot where people did not plan to use it, and thus did not plan to prepare to beat it. A lot of people I talked to barely tested against the deck. Even more simply accepted it as a defendable auto-loss. I didn’t disagree with either of these decisions. Prior to this I had not see any evidence telling me the card was all that great. The question we face now is whether or not the card will be well positioned going into Worlds.

I think you can’t see a card like Pyroar be popular AND successful and not react to it. I don’t think ignoring Pyroar is a very good choice for Worlds. I don’t suggest PLAYING it either, as I think you’ll see less and less decks which simply are answerless to it being played. If you have a deck that’s weak to Pyroar, or one that can’t beat it but you feel is really, really good against the rest of the field, by all means use it. I expect a lot of top players will be hesitant to sleeve up the Lion, and I think a lot of others will do the work of beating it out of the tournament for you.

Pyroar

Now, outside of me restating “I don’t like Pyroar,” let me go a bit more in depth regarding the deck. First off, my initial testing with the card was running a smaller line as a counter while focusing on a plan A that offered more raw power. I’d tested it in Stage 1 toolbox decks. I’d tested it alongside Charizard and Raichu as a 2-2 line. I hadn’t really felt like a metagame would be available where the card could be the focus of the deck as a full 4-4 line. Of course, that is what would up being the most successful, running Mewtwo and Charizard as one-ofs to give the deck some powerful attackers for spots where Pyroar wasn’t good enough.

Let’s look at Michael Pramawat’s list that he skated to a 2nd place finish at Nats with:

Pokémon – 10

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

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper
2 N
3 Blacksmith
2 Lysandre

4 Roller Skates

3 Bicycle

 

4 Ultra Ball

2 Level Ball
4 Pokémon Catcher
4 Switch
3 Muscle Band
1 Computer Search

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy – 12

8 Fire
4 Double Colorless

(Yes, that was a bad Roller Skates joke.) First off, one of the big things that stands out with this deck is in fact that playset of Roller Skates. I hate them. I understand that the deck is relying primarily on an Item engine so it can be aggressive and put pressure on decks which do have answers to the Pyroar. Unfortunately, these cards are extremely unreliable. After the event, Pramawat himself said he disliked running them, so I would like to say any list going forward should try and gravitate away from using them.

The other reason the list is equipped with so many Item draw cards is that you want to be able to allocate your Supporter use each turn to Lysandre or Blacksmith. I remember trying desperately to make a Fire deck using Blacksmith and Delphox so you could still have draw. Kevin Baxter finished first seed in the orange flight after day 1 with a similar deck, using Pyroar/Mewtwo/Charizard but with a thin Electrode line to give it that extra mid-game consistency it needs. I actually prefer that to the unreliable Roller Skates. Bicycle is ok, but also a bit of a gamble and rarely gets me the great draws you’d want in exchange for devoting so many slots in your deck to draw cards.

If you wanted to try and deviate a little bit from the build, which focuses on speed and Catcher effects to try and gain an advantage in tempo, you could transition to a more traditional Supporter line and use some of those extra consistency slots toward buffing some of the other attackers such as Charizard. I feel like people will be more prepared for Pyroar going into Worlds, so you will end up falling back on your plan B Pokémon a lot more frequently.

One thing I really hate about this deck on a fundamental level is the number of Basic Pokémon it has. I’m not going to try and undermine the whole deck, despite my criticisms, because you don’t “get lucky” and make the finals of Nats with a bad deck. Unfortunately, the deck is slanted toward trying to get fast pressuring starts to try and milk that advantage. This doesn’t work that well where you run SIX Basics, leading to a huge number of mulligans which helps your opponents get extra strong starts.

If I wanted to be playing a tempo game like this, I would want to do my best to mitigate the free help I am giving them at the start of the game. The Electrode line helps a bit in that regard. I’d love to have access to a Jirachi-EX in this deck, as it is so powerful with Blacksmith AND Lysandre when you already run Level Balls. Even if you ran a 2-2 Electrode line, I’d be weary of running Jirachi with so few Basics. This is especially a problem when the deck ends up playing an extremely grindy game where you aren’t impacting their field dynamically enough each turn to pressure them off spots where they can Catcher or Lysandre Jirachi.

I feel if you wanted to play Pyroar, you’d want to change the shell a bit from the stock list above we’ve seen from Nationals. There are going to be decks that can’t beat Pyroar, but there will be enough that show up that can beat the list Pramawat used. I can’t imagine many players going into DC will not have tested against the list. When you are running a pretty gimmicky (and I don’t use the term gimmick negatively – it just plays a very specific game plan compared to the rest of the format) deck, you can’t just sit on a stagnant list and hope it continues to surprise people and catch their lists off guard. You need to keep evolving and trump what you think players may do to react.

Flygon

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The other deck that came a bit out of left field was Flygon. Players had discussed it, but it was somewhat disregarded as being a tier 2 fun deck. Clearly that isn’t true. The deck plays similarly to the Trevenant/Accelgor in that it aims to abuse Accelgor’s hit-and-run tactics to promote Pokémon with utility Abilities which wreak havoc on the opponent. Rather than bringing up Trevenant, hoping to establish a “hard lock” by denying them access to switching Items, this deck decides that it will instead run the opponent out of their switching cards. Decks run anywhere from 1-4 copies of the effect, and you end up retreating behind a Flygon which is a tough kill and one that only rewards a single Prize.

The deck is also able to handle disruption a lot better. Trevenant had a terrible issue against Virizion-EX as it relied almost exclusively on the lock. Trevenant also doesn’t handle Lysandre very well at all as it breaks the Item lock as long as anything is on the Bench besides another Trevenant. It also needed to get an Accelgor up and attack every turn of the game. It got to abuse Tropical Beach as it sets up, but couldn’t use it mid game without breaking the lock. Flygon is able to sit a Flygon Active and Beach without using Accelgor and not suffer nearly as much for it. The deck is much more versatile.

Pokémon – 21

4 Trapinch BCR
1 Vibrava BCR
3 Flygon BCR

3 Shelmet PLB
2 Accelgor DEX

2 Duskull FLF
1 Dusclops FLF
2 Dusknoir BCR
1 Mewtwo-EX
1 Mew-EX
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 35

4 N

4 Colress

4 Skyla

 

3 Level Ball
2 Ultra Ball

4 Rare Candy

3 Max Potion

3 Float Stone

1 Switch
1 Super Rod
1 Town Map
1 Startling Megaphone
1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Tropical Beach

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

I personally am not a big fan of Flygon for one major reason: the deck is very difficult to play. Normally this is not a big problem. The problem here is that you need to play perfectly to make the deck AS good as the other decks in the format. You aren’t gaining a huge edge over other decks. You simply have to make no mistakes in order to stay at the same power level, and I don’t care how good a player you are – playing a very demanding deck over the course of a very long event wears on you.

No player makes 100% correct plays. There is a difference between making a clear, obvious blunder, and approaching every game state perfectly. A lot of players can avoid making dumb mistakes, but there are a lot of small, difficult-to-spot mistakes that even great players will occasionally make. Unfortunately, you are faced with a ton of these playing Flygon, and they are all very punishing.

One of the most annoying problems is that a lot of plays come down to you having to guess how many healing or switching cards a player runs. In most cases, there is no information to work on outside of a gut feeling or a guess. These guesses can make or break a game, and that is just a very frustrating role to take in a long event.

I feel Flygon is a good deck. I think it is one of the better deck choices. I don’t, however, feel it is the best choice. I feel like there is a sea of other deck choices that are also in the same ballpark as it that don’t come with the downside of such complex play.

I’ve seen a lot of lists for Flygon which do not run Mew-EX. One of the problems the deck was routinely having for me was struggling to get a chain of Accelgors out. The deck can afford to miss Accelgor every now and then, but I really prefer running Mew as an easy way to keep looping them.

Landorus/Raichu/Garbodor

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Use more of me!

My personal favorite deck at the moment is also the deck that won US Nationals, even though I have some fairly substantial changes to the deck. I had been testing Landorus/Raichu/Garbodor leading into Nationals with pretty good results. The problem I was having is that it could be a little bit clunky. The deck matched up pretty well across the board, but due to all of the hefty Retreat Costs it occasionally stumbled. It was disruptive enough and had good exchanges so it would win a lot of those games still. I guess I’ll retroactively break down what it is I like about this deck.

Raichu is very well positioned as a counter card against a lot of the top decks in the format. It takes advantage of Pyroar, Lugia-EX, and Yveltal EX. The problem with it is that it is just shy of being strong against other decks where it can’t capitalize on Weakness. Raichu caps at 120 damage for a DCE. With Laser, you are able to peak at 150 damage. By including Landorus, we are covering another important type for the deck, but also transitioning Raichu from a role as a counter card to being an all-around primary attacker.

While relying on DCE to count as a “one Energy” attack cheapens the term a bit, Raichu still plays that role well. Once Landorus gets to ravage a field with damage, Raichu are able to come in and sweep up the leftovers with great Energy efficiency. Before I go any further, I want to include the list which won US Nationals:

Pokémon – 14

2 Pikachu XY
2 Raichu XY
2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR

3 Landorus-EX
2 Mewtwo-EX
1 Druddigon FLF

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper
3 N

1 Shauna
3 Skyla
2 Lysandre

2 Bicycle

 

3 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

3 Muscle Band
2 Float Stone
2 Switch
1 Professor’s Letter
1 Enhanced Hammer
1 Computer Search

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

7 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

I’m actually not a fan of the fact this list only runs a 2-2 Raichu line. There is no way I’d include less than a 3-3 line because I want to be able to rely on getting Raichu up and swarming after Landorus. The deck plays very differently depending on how it is constructed. While it seems like cutting 2 cards off the Raichu line isn’t that substantial, it really changes how the deck wants to approach a game. Having access to 3 non-EX attackers changes Prize math quite a bit. Also, being able to reliably get 2 of them up and attacking in a game makes it so you can rely on a few OHKOs over a game.

Here is the list I have been using for this archetype:

Pokémon – 15

3 Pikachu XY
3 Raichu XY

2 Trubbish LTR
2 Garbodor LTR

3 Landorus-EX
1 Mewtwo-EX
1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

4 Colress
2 Skyla

2 Lysandre

 

3 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball

3 Muscle Band
3 Float Stone
1 Escape Rope

1 Dowsing Machine

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 11

7 Fighting
4 Double Colorless

I’ve been a really big fan of the 4 Juniper, 4 N, 4 Colress, 2 Skyla engine. Once the game progresses, Colress is pretty much the best Supporter in the deck. Prior to that, running Jirachi-EX offsets the fact that Colress is a bit weaker early on. I’ve been pretty content with the risks of having to bench Jirachi. I know it isn’t a huge deal, but it is also an additional Basic Pokémon for Raichu. By now, we’re all familiar of its strengths with Lysandre as well.

To fit the additional Raichu line, we more or less cut the 2nd Mewtwo and 1 Druddigon. I don’t mind having 2 Mewtwo, but I feel like with a thicker Raichu line that it is less necessary. We have a much more focused game plan of Landorus into Raichu almost every game, and Mewtwo fits into that shell a bit worse. Druddigon gets axed easily because Blastoise and Rayboar are not seeing play. It doesn’t even really pick on Flygon because the nature of their knockouts avoid triggering the extra damage. This isn’t a strike against the original list though. Going into Nationals, I know I’d have run a Druddigon. The metagame which came out of the event makes it a much weaker inclusion though.

I don’t like the draw engine he used in the deck, personally. Bicycle is just pretty underwhelming unless you build an engine to abuse it or have Sableye. This deck has neither. I also just dislike Shauna. I understand it isn’t unplayable, but I would rather change my list up to support a card like Colress before I get stuck having to play it.

I also wanted to include an additional Float Stone over Switch. I feel like 6 Tools is exactly where I want to be with Garbodor. Rather than running 1 Switch, I went with an Escape Rope as an additional tricky play. I made the change from Computer Search to Dowsing Machine so since we have a few Skyla still, perhaps 5 Tools is workable, and if so, then cut the 3rd Float Stone for a Switch, leaving us with 1 Switch, 1 Escape Rope, 2 Float Stone.

I don’t like the Enhanced Hammer enough in this deck. It gained strength by having 4 Skyla to get access to it reliably, but I don’t think the deck’s matchups really make me feel like it is necessary. I dislike the card if you are not running Sableye to take full advantage of it.

One of the deck’s more annoying matchups, and a problem which makes a real case for playing the Switch over the 3rd Float Stone, is Flygon/Dusknoir/Accelgor. Your attackers are not terribly great against them, and while you may think Garbodor would be enough to win the matchup, they do an alright job of being able to use Dusknoir alongside Megaphones to wipe the Garbodor off your field. I found most games have come down to Accelgor buying them turns, so the Switch end up being hugely important. It is also one of the reasons I like running the Dowsing Machine. Having access to 3 Switch should make the Flygon matchup more comfortable.

Regarding Computer Search, I legitimately told my friend a few years ago that I couldn’t ever see myself playing any other ACE SPEC over it. I’ve since changed my mind on this issue clearly, but I did want to discuss why. Computer Search is very clear-cut in what it does. It is the best single consistency card a deck can have. The issue with this is that you DO have access to other consistency cards. They may be worse, but you have a ton of options to replace the card.

A card everyone knows I have been infatuated with is Scramble Switch. It is such a powerful card that offers a unique effect. (Yes, you could wrongly argue it can be replaced by multiple Energy Switches and a Switch.) There are a lot of decks that take advantage of such an effect. There are no non-ACE SPEC cards which can offer this.

Dowsing Machine is also interesting. It seems fairly weak compared to Computer Search side by side, but it generally fulfills two functions. The first is acting as a 5th copy of a crucial card. This hasn’t actually been the case really yet, but examples would be an Aromatisse deck aiming to have 5 Max Potions, or prior to the release of Shadow Triad, decks using Ninetales which wanted a 5th Laser. The more practical use is in decks that are cramped on space. This card lets you trim Trainer numbers across the board, effectively netting you 2-4 extra spots in your list. No other card in the format lets decks free up space in tight lists like Dowsing Machine.

As a format matures, you’ll notice something happen. Once there is a very fleshed out metagame, and players are able to hone in on what they need to beat, you’ll see players forced to make more and more adjustments to try and one up all of the other decks. This means there are less and less spots leftover in decks. Players either need to add silver bullets to decks or adjust to be able to beat other silver bullets aimed to beat their deck. When players have to add more cards, a card like Dowsing Machine is more and more appealing, as it facilitates this.

I actually don’t even feel like the Landorus/Raichu/Garbodor deck I’m running is a particularly great example of a deck wanting to run Dowsing Machine. Most of the cards included are at a stable count. I’ve found the deck ends up going pretty long in games, and having extra copies of cards has done more to help the deck than the consistency boost offered by Computer Search. The deck can play a pretty grindy game, and I’ve always found myself gravitating toward Dowsing in those kind of decks. I wouldn’t fault someone for sticking with Computer Search, it is just my personal preference.

Rayboar and Blastoise

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Rain Dance seems done.

I’m not a big fan of these decks anymore, and in general, if I don’t like Rayboar, it probably is just not a good call for an event. I advocated it for Nationals, on the stance that it was favorable across the field against everything but Yveltal/Garbodor. Unfortunately, we now have a second high-profile Garbodor deck in the metagame. Also, Flygon showed up in high numbers and has moved beyond being a fringe player, and the matchup is not very good for Rayboar.

Kyurem-based Plasma decks can be rough too due to how well they are able to hunt and kill Tepig or even a full grown Emboar. One of the best matchups for the deck, Virizion/Genesect, is likely to shrink further in numbers because of the emergence of Pyroar as a real roleplayer. To top it off, Rayboar was not terribly popular at Nationals, and I’d say it is a pretty safe play to prepared for Worlds assuming the deck will not have a real presence.

Blastoise was a worse version of Emboar in my eyes, although that may have been reversed due to Water being a very good type now due to Landorus and Pyroar. It also is nice to have access to , a sustainable attacker against the Flygon decks because they can’t rely on mid-game killing Blastoise and leaving your field barren of Energy. If I had to choose between the two Stage 2 decks, I’d go with Blastoise, but I do not like either much at all.

Regarding this shift in the metagame, it makes it so as a deck builder, Druddigon is not necessary in lists. The card is underwhelming in all of the other matchups, so with these decks shrinking in numbers, I’d be hard pressed to justify running it.

Virizion/Genesect

I wasn’t liking how Genesect tested prior to Nationals, and Pyroar is another big problem for it. There really isn’t a ton you can do for that matchup. Initially I felt like Raichu may be able to cover the Weakness, but if you look at the list from Nationals with so many Catcher effects, in order to fill the Bench up, you would need to load it with Fire-Weak EXs. I imagine it would be difficult to win.

On the plus side, the deck no longer has to worry about Rayboar. Outside of the occasional auto-loss to Fire, the problem Genesect decks always faced was that they would occasionally “self-destruct.” I guess I am exaggerating there a bit, as what I am talking about is simply missing the turn two Emerald Slash. Lists have gotten fairly good at hitting it, but it misses enough for it to be a problem, as you more or less become an underdog in any game where you miss.

Outside of that, the deck doesn’t really have what I’d consider to be “good” matchups. It has a slew of 50/50 matchups, and some auto-losses. That being said, it seems that some players always play this deck, so expect to see it show up in the LCQ and at Worlds anyway. While I don’t think it is a very good choice, it is not a deck you can afford to ignore as a non-factor like Rayboar or Blastoise.

Yveltal/Garbodor

Yveltal decks performed fairly well at US Nationals, and while I feel they showed up in lesser numbers than many players predicted, they still made up a pretty commanding portion of the field. The highest placement of any of the Yveltal decks was a list using Garbodor which made it all the way into the semi-finals of the event. Here is the list:

Pokémon – 12

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

1 Sableye DEX

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

2 Colress

1 Lysandre
2 Bicycle

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Dark Patch
3 Muscle Band
3 Float Stone
1 Switch
1 Professor’s Letter

1 Dowsing Machine

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 12

8 Darkness
4 Double Colorless

garbodor-legendary-treasures-ltr-68-ptcgo-1
Garb gives you a chance versus Pyroar.

This is a pretty basic list. He ran the standard 3 Yveltal-EX and 2-2 Garbodor line while actually including pretty much every possible “splash” Pokémon you could realistically want to run in the deck. Absol helps your Plasma matchup out quite a bit, which ended up likely being important since the deck really made quite the resurgence with reverting back to the old Kyurem/Hypnotoxic Laser builds.

Sableye was kept as a one-of, which is something that most players have adopted for awhile now. The deck is much more aggressive and pressure oriented than older builds, and as a result, Junk Hunt is just worse. Since the deck CAN get a turn 2 Yveltal-EX almost every game, it doesn’t want to bother Junk Hunting like it did while posturing to set up Darkrai. You still want to include a copy of it because there is still a lot of value in being able to Junk Hunt in the end game. You don’t want to be spamming it all game long though.

A copy of the non-EX Yveltal slips in as a good setup attacker and a means to dump more Energy onto a weaker field. The card has also taken over Sableye’s role as an attacker in spots where you are unable to get off a meaningful attack and want something to do as a bit of a placeholder. Yveltal often replaces the Energy attachment used on it the turn you play it, while putting out damage and providing a 130 HP non-EX wall for the turn.

Jirachi-EX seems like it would be counter-intuitive, but if you’ve played the deck, you know how good the card is early on in the game if your hand is struggling, and you know how often during the course of a game you don’t have Garbotoxin online. The way it smooths out the deck makes it well worth the inclusion. I’ve kind of beat this horse within an inch of its life, but I personally cannot stress how much I like Jirachi-EX in pretty much every deck right now. I like what it does for consistency alone, but now that we have Lysandre, I love it even more.

Along the same line of thought, the deck runs a Darkrai-EX. Not every game will you have Garbotoxin online, and in many of those, Darkrai EX’s Ability is going to offer a great amount of utility to you. Outside of this, it does fulfill the role of a secondary attacker rather well. Lists no longer run Energy Switch to help support Darkrai’s demanding Energy cost, with this build packing all 4 Dark Patch (I had been down to 3 copies, and I know a lot of players have trimmed the count as well), I think it is pretty reasonable to get the old boogeyman back in action in here. The jump to 180 HP is important, and the switch to a Fighting Weakness is a nice change of pace. The card is an absolute monster against Raichu decks if they are not well equipped to handle it.

Honestly, the Trainers are all straightforward as well. Having gotten a chance to look over all of the lists to come out of Nationals, I’ve disagreed with most of the Trainer lines to a degree. Everyone has their own play styles and preferences, and you absolutely CAN’T make the top 4 of a 1,000 person tournament on luck alone, so I am not discrediting the decks or their pilots. That said, this deck is EXTREMELY close to the list I would be running for the archetype.

The only change I would consider making is cutting a Dark Patch for a card such as a 2nd Lysandre, a Catcher, a Max Potion, or an Enhanced Hammer. That is really the “floating” spot in the deck for me. I also gravitate toward an Escape Rope over a Switch in these style of decks as they offer more tricky plays, but that’s not a major deal. Depending on what I did with the Dark Patch spot, I could see making the 2nd Bicycle into one Skyla as well. I actually feel like the deck wants a 3rd Virbank, and Skyla is a good compromise toward getting similar results without having to spend a spot on it.

I said in my last article that I wouldn’t really want to be at the helm of an Yveltal deck going into Nationals due to the huge target on its forehead, but with Nats creating a lot of hype around a few new archetypes and the metagame breaking down into a pretty open field, I actually think the deck becomes a fantastic choice. An additional switching effect against Flygon may be a good idea. The two new players in the meta are Flygon and Pyroar, and oddly enough both rely on keeping you off of Garbodor by killing them. I don’t think the deck wants to fluff the list with a 3-3 line, but it would likely do quite a number against both of those archetypes.

Plasma

This is another point where I feel the need to admit to being wrong. I felt that Plasma was not very well positioned going into Nationals. This is actually the second time I have been incorrect regarding the archetype. As a diehard fan of the deck going into the release of XY, I felt the changes to Pokémon Catcher and the new first turn rule would kill the deck. It did, briefly, as the old stock lists based around Kyurem disappeared entirely before the archetype transitioned to the Lugia-EX/Snorlax-based builds. That deck turned out to do rather well for itself for months, but by the time Nationals reared their ugly heads, I felt that the format had reached a point where that deck was just downright bad. I still stand by that fact.

What I failed to see was a widespread transition BACK to the old Kyurem builds using Hypnotoxic Laser. I mentioned earlier that this allows the deck to really prey on Yveltal decks. Frost Spear’s overall damage output got pretty disgusting with Muscle Band as well. Let’s take a look at the list that made the semi-finals of US Nationals:

Pokémon – 11

4 Deoxys-EX

2 Thundurus-EX PLF
4 Kyurem PLF
1 Genesect-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

2 Colress

1 Shauna

1 Skyla

1 Lysandre
1 Bicycle

 

3 Team Plasma Ball
1 Ultra Ball

4 Switch
3 Muscle Band
3 Colress Machine
2 Startling Megaphone
1 Computer Search

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

1 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 13

4 Plasma
4 Prism

2 Blend WLFM

2 Water

1 Lightning

kyurem-plasma-freeze-plf-31-ptcgo-1
Kyurem is making a comeback.

This is an interesting list, which I had quite a few problems with. I actually like the Pokémon a lot. I wouldn’t mind seeing an Absol make it into the deck, but it’s not necessary. I know some people really don’t like Genesect that much in this style of build because the deck is really strained on its Energy attachments due to Kyurem, but I feel like it offers the most mileage you can get out of a single slot for “Catcher” effects.

I don’t see the need to split the Energy up as it is. Enhanced Hammer sees play, but not a lot. I’d likely cut a Lightning and a Water Energy for the final 2 Blend. Which basic to keep is actually interesting, as Lighting IS the better choice versus Hammer decks, but in general, you need more Water Energy sources. I think I am fine with ignoring the Hammer “problem” and leaving the Water.

I am absolutely not ok with running only one copy of Virbank City Gym in a list that chooses to go with Computer Search as the ACE SPEC. I mean, I get the idea that you can piggyback off other lists’ Virbanks and that some decks don’t counter it, but I think the deck needs the extra mileage out of the Lasers so badly that you can’t afford to not draw it, or Prize it, or get it countered. I like the 1 Skyla and 1 Computer Search to help support the gambit, but I don’t like the ploy overall. The Laser package is a huge commitment for the deck, and I’m not looking to skimp on supporting it.

This deck was the first one I started playing the 4 Juniper, 4 N, 4 Colress, 2 Skyla count in, and again we reach the “I will not play Shauna” fork in the road. This list only has 13 slots toward draw cards (a 14th in CPU Search), so I guess 4-4-4-1 or 4-4-3-2 would suffice here. With 4 Switch, I prefer to go with a 3-1 split with an Escape Rope.

The choice between Computer Search and Dowsing Machine is close in this deck. (I’ll be honest: I LOVE Scramble Switch in this deck and will swear by it, but I am a lunatic and I don’t expect you to be a lunatic alongside me.)

I also am unsure on the split on the Balls. I never really did figure out what the “right” combination was. Ultra Ball was so good with Thundurus that I felt it gave the deck its best starts. I’ve also been bit by not having a lot of stuff to discard. My gut actually points me to a 2-2 split.

Worlds Wrap-Up

So leaving Nationals, we saw 3 new decks become major players, and we saw a few archetypes fall by the wayside. Rayboar and Blastoise failed to impressed, and Lugia/Snorlax-style Plasma lists were generally left behind for their newer incarnation. Besides the Kyurem Plasma builds, Flygon and Pyroar came out of the woodwork to shape an unexpected Nationals metagame.

The important thing to notice about this is that two of these decks, Flygon and Pyroar, were not really prepared for by players. They also have very unique game plans which can be preyed upon. Before looking at them as stable choices, realize that players have had over a month to test and prepare for these decks and I do expect both to fare worse than they did going into Nationals.

On the other side, such an upheaval has taken some of the heat off of the less exciting decks like Yveltal/Garbodor and Landorus/Raichu/Garbodor. I think both of these decks are really good plays going into Worlds. (I know, I’m really risking my neck by choosing the well-accepted best deck in the format, and the deck that won US Nats, right?)

If I was grinding in DC, I would be sleeving up Landorus/Raichu/Garbodor. Ok, that is actually a lie. If I was grinding, I would absolutely play this stupid Mega Venusaur-EX/Dusknoir deck I love. If I was qualified and not just trying to throw away a LCQ run though, I would use Landorus/Raichu/Garbodor. (Yes, I will include a small feature on this Venusaur deck at the end of the article.)

What We Lose From the Rotation

tropical beach bw50 artwork

What will we lose? The simple answers are: Next Destinies, Dark Explorers, Dragons Exalted, Dragon Vault, and Tropical Beach. In the grand scheme of things, a lot of these cards got overtaken by the power creep or simply reprinted. I made a quick list of the semi-relevant cards that will be lost:

Next Destinies

Dark Explorers

Dragons Exalted

Dragon Vault

Promos

I’ll touch on the biggest players first:

Tropical Beach

This card has been a major problem for the game for years now, as its price point and scarcity has been a deterrent to players and limited what decks everyone could play. I doubt it was expected to see as much play as it did. It has been the staple of Stage 2 decks for over 2 years now, ever since Ross Cawthon jammed it into his Vileplume/Reuniclus deck at Worlds 2011. With the power creep making Basic Pokémon-EX the driving force of the format, this card was the glue that helped slower decks get enough extra draw power to be able to set up and contend.

As annoying as this card is from an obtainability standpoint, I actually feel like it was extremely good for the game functionally, and I wish it wasn’t leaving. It will be interesting to see what non-aggressive decks do in order to try and fill this gap, as it will certainly be missed and I can see it leaving a void too hard to fill that will reduce the diversity in decks going forward.

Rayquaza-EX

Emboar managed to get a reprint in Legendary Treasures, even after his first reprint as a secret rare would rotate, so he survives to uh… breath fire? For another day. His partner in crime, and one of my favorite cards ever printed, Rayquaza-EX does not. This tears that deck apart. We’ll see if Emboar finds new buddies alongside Delphox to continue to be viable, but losing Rayquaza AND Tropical Beach seems like a huge hurdle. Rayquaza saw tier 1 play alongside Emboar and Eelektrik prior to its rotation, and I know I’ll be sad to see it go.

Dark Patch

After a stupid run of dominance, could we finally see a decline in the strength of Dark Pokémon? Dark Patch has been the primary means for these decks to be able to keep up on Energy attachments, and the costs of Darkrai-EX and Yveltal-EX seemed to have factored in Dark Patch’s presence in the format, so I’ll be curious to see how they manage to function without it. Due to Yveltal being able to abuse DCE, I see it staying decent, but Darkrai is too Energy expensive to reliably power without this.

Sableye DEX

Another Dark staple getting the ax, Sableye has also seen its share of glory. Sableye has fallen a bit out of favor as the format has evolved and the Dark decks moved toward more aggressive roles, but it is still a defining characteristic of the type and certainly will change how the decks which used to abuse it will function.

Blend Energy, Prism Energy

These were once necessary to make multi-color decks functional. “Luckily” we still have access to Rainbow Energy. Decks which want to abuse these often want more than 4 copies of their multi-colored Energies, so I see this being quite a hit. That said, for decks wanting a small splash, Professor’s Letter is really good at enabling a bit of a toolbox of Energy, so alongside Rainbow Energy I think this won’t be terribly impactful. One of the hardest hit decks with this would be Plasma builds, but I could see them either condensing on types a bit or going with a Professor’s Letter engine.

Skyarrow Bridge

This is another card that has seen less and less play. A lot of the decks which abuse it aren’t around anymore, and more importantly, decks have switched to either Float Stone or Switch because the latter works more favorably against the popular Hypnotoxic Laser. I don’t think it’ll leave a major void being rotated.

Accelgor DEX

Good riddance. This card is miserable. This is me showing bias. I felt this card is very bad for the game for a while now and am glad to see it go. Pokémon has not done a good enough job balancing their formats for them to attempt to print cards which enable “hard lock” combos. That is a very fine line to walk on and they are not good at it. That said, losing this card guts the format of two potential archetypes, Flygon and Trevenant. This is a very important loss, although one which I think is for the better.

Ho-Oh-EX

This card has seen fringe play since its release, but despite some success I feel like it was always just shy of being good enough to be tier 1. This is a pretty sad loss, as it stood to be the type of card that may have found a role in the new format as some of the powerful, oppressive cards rotate. Dark decks lost their source of Energy acceleration, and one of the big acceleration decks (Emboar) lost its attacker, so a void was certainly there.

Bouffalant DRX

Bouffalant started this format off strong, but ended up fading away. Nonetheless, this is also another card like Ho-Oh that I felt could have seen a resurgence. The next set makes Fighting a much better type as a whole though, so while Bouffalant is good enough in terms of power level, I think its Weakness would likely have neutered its popularity anyway.

Heavy Ball, Level Ball

These two both go, and that’s a shame. I have actually been a big fan of Pokémon attempting to diversify their search cards to force players to build with options in mind. Level Ball has seen far more play than its heavier counterpart, and I think it will be sorely missed. It has been one of the reasons that Jirachi-EX has been so strong, and it allows Evolution decks to get out multiple Basics to avoid getting them hunted by Catcher effects early. This is another card I wish we kept, as we keep losing cards that help Evolution decks.

Exp. Share

This card was always really good, but it was hurt way too much by Tool Scrapper to see play. Speaking of which, we lose that too, but Startling Megaphone is still here so I don’t think much changes. I think Exp. Share would have potentially seen play as a way to keep Energy out post-rotation had it not been cut.

Enhanced Hammer

I actually am going to miss this. This is narrow enough for me to like it. Especially since we are losing Sableye. I LOVE *rolls eyes* that this Hammer rotates but we get the wonderful, flippy Crushing Hammer back instead. Hammer would have suffered a bit anyway because Prism and Blend Energy left, and Sableye was gone as well. I’d be happy to see this get a reprint somewhere down the line though!


Beyond this, we saw very fringe roleplaying cards get cut, but those are the major ones. In general, we saw Dark decks take a MAJOR hit. The combo Accelgor decks are now completely dead. Plasma decks need to rework their Energy base. Rayboar is also dead, and while Emboar may be able to build differently to stay viable (maybe some wonky 4 Delphox build?) I think Blastoise may make a big comeback. On the other hand, Stage 2 decks have taken a huge hit with the loss of Tropical Beach. They previously relied heavily on Skyla to be able to get their Rare Candy, and this worked because it also grabbed Beach. Skyla loses a lot of universal strength in the decks now.

Before I speculate on any of the decks I think whether the storm, we need to look at the cards we GAINED with Furious Fists. (I am not used to including the set review at the END of my articles. Gotta mix it up!)

Furious Fists Review

fighting spirit gympokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com

Heracross-EX

Here we go with another middling Pokémon-EX that doesn’t really serve a purpose. 170 HP is average. Guard Press would have been good about 5 years ago. Giga Power is really weak for an EX in this day and age. Compare this Grass guy to either Virizion or Genesect and it doesn’t come close to being comparable. Look at Giga Power next to Megalon Cannon. You can sure tell this isn’t the Heracross-themed set. That said, if the XY generation of sets has taught us anything, it’s that EXs that Mega Evolve are always going to be weak, so let’s see what the final product gets us…

M Heracross-EX

It doesn’t really get much better. This is such a backward design. You use a mechanic where you give up turns to evolve. This means you’re on the defensive end of things as it is. Odds are this Heracross gets lit up in the process of being powered. Beyond this, one of the major perks of Megavolving is that you get a big boost to HP. Except that beyond a certain amount of damage on this guy, he is effectively useless so you can’t even realistically take advantage of that. If he could still use normal Heracross-EX’s attacks like the old Level-Up rule, maybe we’d have something.

Magmortar FFI

When did Magmortar and Electivire become friends and stuff? Seriously. I get that they evolve from Pokémon that were their Red/Blue counterparts, but this seems like a stretch. Well, nonetheless, we get the full on Plusle/Minun card design in effect here. Oddly enough, this guy seems really good. Since you’d clearly play it with Electivire, you’ll be doing 160 damage for four Energy. 180 with Muscle Band. The best part? You get to abuse DCE AND Blacksmith with this deck! Magmortar’s first attack also helps power itself up in a bind.

I am actually extremely excited for this deck, and think it will likely end up being tier 1. It will be the first deck I test for the format. (I’m still helping my friends test for Worlds with this format at the moment though.)

Blaziken FFI

How sad is it that a card which is more or less a strict upgrade to Blaziken e MA is more than likely never going to see play? 150 damage means it can maybe abuse Muscle Band or Laser to hit major HP, but it would need paired with Emboar, and you can’t fit it alongside Delphox too, and I don’t think without Beach that you can support two Stage 2 Pokémon without Delphox as well. It does get to abuse DCE and Blacksmith, so maybe it can find a home, but I think it’s just too weak as a Stage 2 to be tier 1.

Politoed FFI, Poliwrath FFI

This guy is used to enable Poliwrath and actually Poliwhirl as well. This was meant as one big gimmick chain, and it’s actually kind of cool. I don’t think it will end up being good enough as you have to get out a whole ton of Evolutions to really take advantage of it. What I see happening is players being able to pick apart either the Politoed side of your field, or the attacker side. Being able to get free attacks off of Poliwrath and Poliwhirl is really good. Poliwrath’s Stream Roll is good enough to see play if you had to pay for it, and is very good for free. Finishing Blow on Poliwhirl is the highest free-damage attack in the chain.

I think the format is too fast for this deck to thrive. I will say Max Potioning Poliwrath against decks which can’t KO them is going to be really, really fun though.

Seismitoad-EX

Disconnect. On a Basic. For CC. At least DCE rotated… aw crap. Alright. Not sure why they’d do this to us, but it’s pretty obvious this card is good. They don’t make this stuff very subtle. Not only is Quaking Punch a one-Energy attack on a Basic so good that it is probably just a bad idea, but the second attack, Grenade Hammer, is also pretty good! How badly do I feel about the design team coming up with these cards when I originally read it as doing 30 to 2 of your OPPONENT’S Benched Pokémon and actually didn’t do a doubletake immediately because I figured that was even possible?

Anyway, you’d run this guy with Muscle Band and Lasers to abuse Quaking Punch and let the 130-damage Hammer reach the magic 180 mark. Grand. If you wanted to be cute, you could pair it with Pokémon with Outrage, like Reshiram LTR or Zekrom LTR, but I think if you are in the Grenade Hammer stage of a game that cute stuff is unnecessary.

Even if you don’t want to build a deck built solely around this guy, what is stopping you from pairing it with a sort of Big Basics deck? They run DCE, Muscle Band, and Lasers anyway, you could slide him in for occasional use on key turns even if you aren’t locked into a constant “Disconnect” lock with it. You can pair this guy with Garbodor and prevent them from Megaphoning the Tool to stop Garbotoxin too. I would be very, very surprised if this doesn’t see a massive amount of play.

Aurorus FFI

This guy is probably never going to see play, even with the Supporter which helps get the Basics into play. That being said, an Ability that stacks which reduces damage to Water Pokémon is really cool, and I’m surprised they actually printed this. I guess nothing surprises me anymore though, honestly. The problem these guys face is that the damage output in general is so high that it out-scales even this reduction too easily. You have to do so much work to make this happen and you don’t see enough advantage for it. You also hate seeing Garbodor.

You could run these guys with Seismitoad for a really tanky toad, and Quaking Punch would lock them off of Garbotoxin all game, so who knows – maybe these guys may see the light of competitive play after all.

Electivire FFI

Electivire is basically an ornament to make Magmortar look pretty. You could theoretically use Electivire’s first attack to reasonable effect, but I am not sure how much I’d want Lightning Energy in the first place. You need DCE as is and a lot of Fire Energy to fuel Blacksmith. If we accept that Blacksmith is the Supporter we want to use often, then Fiery Torch is a card I’d want to try for draw. If that is the case, we want so much Fire that Lightning is tough to fit. I assume a list would run Professor’s Letter though, so I’d likely run at least 1 Lightning to search up to get the occasionally attack with it. I actually think TAG TEAM Spark scales pretty well, and I definitely do like having access to a Lightning-type attacker.

Jynx FFI

Victory Kiss is pretty interesting. For one slot of your Bench, you end up healing a decent amount of damage over the course of a game. I don’t know if theres a deck that would want to Bench a bunch and try to heal a lot of damage, but it could happen I guess. I also think this is interesting to compare to Aurorus. Each Jynx effectively mitigates 10 damage, whereas the Aurorus stops 20. Not sure if Aurorus would be worth the extra trouble. (You could do the Aurorus/Jynx deck! Effectively stop up to 100 damage a turn!)

Actually, the art on this card is pretty ridiculous as I look at it more. That Machamp sure looks uncomfortable…

Golurk FFI

This card is kind of interesting. Wreck does a pretty high amount of damage for “two” Energy, but it really saddens me that you’ll never be able to play Virbank/Laser with it. I think otherwise it could maybe be good enough to see fringe play. It isn’t BAD, but I think it falls just short of being good.

Machamp FFI

Our Aurorus counterpart, Machamp, pumps all Fighting-type attacks by 20 for each copy of Machamp play! I actually think this card is insane, as it takes a card like Landorus-EX and turns it into an even more threatening monster. Hammerhead is already very efficient. If you get a few of these in play, alongside Muscle Band, the new Fighting Stadium, and a Strong Energy, things get ugly very, very quickly.

Its attack, despite having a really funny Hulk-like reference in “Machamp Crush,” is not terribly good and shouldn’t happen often. The question I have with Machamp is whether it’s worth spending so many spots on a line of it over just running other cards as I feel the “Fighting” deck may be good enough without them. I don’t know if Machamp pushes the deck over the edge into being a tier 1 threat or if they end up being more of a “win more” type deal where they are clunky and only make your wins look more impressive.

Lucario-EX

Oooo. We get another nice 3-attack Pokémon. Lucario looks to be one of the marquee Pokémon in this set. Its attacks line up very well with what they want to push as Fighting’s “style” in this set. It pairs really well with Landorus as another quick attacker. I like Landorus a lot more than I do Lucario, but I would run both if only for the variety of Weakness.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend about Corkscrew Smash. He was mentioning how you could try and build a deck hinging on using it as a primary part of your draw engine so you could focus on using disruptive Supporters during your turn instead. I’m not sure if that would actually work, but the attack cost is low enough that I could see it being pretty reasonable. I’d just hate to run an entire engine where you are overly reliant on it because I could see game states where you fall behind and can’t use it.

I actually expect you’ll get some really impressive games off of that approach, but the games that go badly could go very badly. Maybe Jirachi-EX can help offset running less draw Supporters though, so I won’t rule it out until I test it firsthand. Somersault Kick is alright, and a bit more attractive when you realize with a Strong Energy, Muscle Band, and Virbank/Laser it hits 170.

I know I keep bringing scenarios like that up as if it is just casually easy to assemble, but it really does matter! Not only can you craft games around hitting it (you won’t ALWAYS get it but you will get it often enough), but more importantly, the THREAT forces people to play with it and mind and that passive menace does a lot to change a game.

M Lucario-EX

This Mega Evolution is pretty interesting. 220 HP is good. The attack is really good and easy to pump to one-shot range with the support Fighting Pokémon get. The problem I see with it is that it is so counterproductive toward what these Fighting decks seem designed to do. I do not want to be playing a bunch of fast, hard-hitting, smash-mouth Basic Pokémon-EX to put a bunch of pressure down early only to hit a pause button and Mega Evolve a Lucario.

I’m legitimately not sure how many gamestates skipping a turn of attacks is going to be worth what the Mega form brings to the table. In and of itself, the card is one of the more appealing Mega forms, it’s just the one that falls in line the worst with what its standard EX wants to accomplish.

Landorus FFI

This is a card that I think is really good, but hasn’t gotten nearly the hype other cards in the set has gotten. It’s a non-EX, with good hit points and a one-Energy damaging attack. It also offers Energy acceleration to Fighting types! Even if you do not run a ton of this guy, Korrina lets you search it and a switching card up easily, letting you get him going when you need it.

I think he’ll be a solid 1-2 of in what turns out to be the shell of the “Fighting Deck.” (I’ve learned by now that each set will ALWAYS spawn an archetype out of its featured gimmick. If you don’t think it has, you just need to test harder because one is always there.)

Hawlucha-EX

This card isn’t close to being viable. I just wanted to bring it up because first off, I feel obligated to touch on all of the EX cards in a set, and secondly, because it has an attack referencing a Moonsault! For those who don’t know me very well, I am shamelessly a huge fan of professional wrestling, so this tickles my fancy too much for me not to love it.

-EX

I love this guy! Abilities like Bust In are really, really good. I can definitely see some sort of Super Scoop Up/Max Potion Dragonite-EX deck working very well. I could see it being paired with Virizion and Genesect as well. I actually think that would be like, 4 Virizion-EX, 4 Dragonite-EX, 1-2 Genesect-EX. Jet Sonic does just enough damage to be respectable, and I see decks which are unable to score one-hit kills on this being in a really, really bad position against it. The fact it has issues against decks that do OHKO it, and likely struggles against Garbodor means it has some very basic vulnerabilities, so I’m not sure it can ever be extremely dominant, but I think the card is strong, and a lot of the format seems like an underdog to it.

Flygon FFI

This Flygon is inspired by the one that came out in the original Dragons set in 2004 and I loved that card. I managed to win a City Championships with it, Delcatty, and Magneton. It was pretty gimmicky, but it was decent enough. I also played it at US Nationals 2004 to a 5-3 result to miss cut. Needless to say, I have a bit of an attachment to this card.

I think with Professor’s Letter and Superior Energy Retrieval that this card can actually dump a ton of Energy into play. The fact that it can put Energy on Pokémon-EX means I think it could see play. I’d like to try it in a Big Basics toolbox-style deck like Ho-Oh-EX had been used in previously. I really wish that Ho-Oh hadn’t rotated as I think these would work really well in conjunction with one another.

Noivern FFI

That sure is an Ability on this uh… noisy wyvern thing. As a Stage 1, these could be annoying enough to be usable if their attack costs were not so difficult to use. I never expected I’d complain about a 100 HP Stage 1 with a built-in flip to dodge attacks that did 30 to everything for 3 Energy. Unfortunately, due to how frail they are if they do get hit, that 3 Energy with no means to really cheat more into play becomes a huge liability.

You need to be able to chain these guys, and while it is easy to get a bunch of Stage 1 bat wyvern things out, it’s almost impossible to get enough Energy to use them. This is a card that would be very good if we every get a Psychic or Darkness Energy accelerating card in upcoming sets to help power them.

Battle Reporter

Well, it isn’t quite Copycat. It isn’t even quite Holon Scientist, which is the closest parallel, but that card let you dump a card from your hand to get a bit of extra value out of it. I don’t really like this card as the gap between hand sizes doesn’t get too big in this format due to both decks usually using N. I don’t know if this is better than Shauna though. I want to say yes just due to my disdain of Shauna as a card, but this is super situational. With decks already using Jirachi-EX as a way to tutor Supporters, I can see this being a decent singleton inclusion.

Focus Sash

Not quite as annoying as Focus Band. Still. I guess I don’t object to this too much as it’s so conditional with the Pokémon needing full HP. I don’t think too many OHKOs will happen in this format since Rayquaza-EX rotated. I guess we still have Genesect-EX and Black Kyurem-EX PLS, so they’ll happen. I hate Tools that only matter if you manage to get them to stick on one of your opponent’s turn and hope they can’t discard it. The upside to this card is really high, I just see it getting discarded a lot, and failing half the time it doesn’t, so it seems like I’d avoid it personally.

Korrina

It isn’t a strict upgrade to Skyla in Fighting decks, but it seems like I’d want to play it over Skyla. It can’t get a Stadium, and annoyingly cannot grab a Supporter, but I think that is a small price to pay for getting a free Pokémon in the deal. It can grab you a Rare Candy and a Machamp, which seems really good if you went that route. I like how it can grab you a Basic and a Switch to bring it Active on the first turn. I think it has enough different functions that you’d want to run at least a few copies if not a full 4 of her.

Maintenance

Ok, this card is not bad! Let me defend it! It was one of the worst cards in Base Set, but now it may be playable! If a deck wanted to abuse some sort of Item-oriented draw engine, it could use this, Bicycle, Torch, Roller Skates, etc. It is card disadvantage, but it still digs you deeper. It also makes Juniper a friendly card to deal with, so you don’t have to discard key cards. I don’t think it’ll see widespread play, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it saw very fringe niche useage.

Mountain Ring

Bench damage is actually pretty prevalent, so this card is fundamentally good. I don’t expect to see it get play though. First off, Stadiums that are reactive and have no impact if your opponent can counter them, are generally not very good. The impact has to be higher than this to make them worth it. The other problem is that this card will be useless in MOST matchups. There are too many other good Stadiums contending for the Stadium slot for this to just be the “best” against an open field. You can’t really run one either, because in matchups where this type of counter are good, it boils down to a series of counter Gyms where you hope yours is the last one standing. Which your lone copy won’t be.

Sparkling Robe

We have ourselves an answer to Lasers now. I would have liked to see this when Accelgor was still a thorn in everyone’s side though. I like the fact that this acts as an immediate counter to a Laser on use, that then needs answered for later or it offers long term protection. Retroactively purging the Status Conditions really ups the value of this card.

I’m not sure if it is better than just running Switches though, as Switch offers overall more utility, but I could see a deck like Garbodor wanting this because it also doubles as counting toward the Tool count. I’d be surprised to see it in decks as more than a single copy though. Still, it’s a fun card and probably a healthy one to have in the format.

Super Scoop Up

I figured we were due to get this card back eventually. I really hate seeing cards like this in the format though. I don’t like flips to begin with. The problem is even worse when the impact of the flip is so powerful. A heads on this card is very game breaking. Likely not as much so as Catcher, but pretty close. I’m glad to see we managed to get the trifecta of infuriating flip cards all in one format with this, Catcher, and Crushing Hammer. It’s like they just look at old Base Set cards, thought “this was too good” and made it a flip and threw it at us.

Training Center

They tried to give Evolution cards a hand here. I don’t think it does exactly what is intended, as the biggest issue at hand was that Evolutions were just not worth the card space and effort used to get them out overall. You could add HP to them anyway and it wouldn’t be good enough. Requiring the Stadium to do it helps a bit, but we’ll see if it matters enough. It seems too easy to counter. I never liked these cards. The old Gyms that added HP to Dark Pokémon were easily played around then, and I don’t see this being too different.

Also, most decks using Evolutions now use them as support to power up Basic attackers, so HP doesn’t matter too much there either. The fact it affects Stage 1 as well as Stage 2 Pokémon is kind of nice as I could see this being used with Magmortar/Electivire, as that deck doesn’t need to try and fit Lasers in it as Magmortar hits 180 with just a Band.

Fighting Stadium

Now this is the type of Stadium I like! While “technically” it affects both players, the specific nature of only impacting one type makes it likely to only impact you. More importantly, the card offers IMMEDIATE impact. Worst-case scenario, this card is a double PlusPower against an EX. Best case scenario, you have a huge advantage all game. As an aggressive deck, I feel like Fighting decks will just inherently have an advantage against the non-EX decks anyway. I’m not sure if this is better than running Virbank City Gym and Lasers though. I actually doubt that it is, but the option is there.

Herbal Energy

I love this card! Well, this and Strong Energy. I like the idea of printing cards which offer type-specific benefits. I loved the old Holon Energy cards that benefitted multiple types. I also thought that Special Darkness and Metal Energy were a great idea. I’d love to see this happen for every type. I actually don’t think Herbal Energy is all that good, but it seems like a free inclusion in most Grass-type decks. I wouldn’t run too many in Virizion/Genesect because you need enough basic Grass Energy to Emerald Slash for, but a couple copies seems fine. Healing in general is not that strong in this format, but 30 on one Energy is still pretty well scaled.

Strong Energy

Unlike Herbal Energy, I think this card is incredible. They clearly wanted an aggressive Fighting deck to stem from this set, and this card surely pushes that agenda well. Taking either Lucario-EX or Landorus-EX and adding 20 damage to their attacks is very enticing. I don’t think I need to go too in depth over why this card is powerful.

Conclusion

venusaur sleepy faded flowerspokemontime.tumblr.com

I am in love with the design of this set overall. I love to be overly critical of Pokémon for the many bad decisions they have made, and continue to make. This set’s design is really nice though! A few cards may be too good, but I love the idea of taking a type and putting cards which specifically key to that type and make it stronger. It makes each type have more of an identity to itself outside of just a complex system of rock-paper-scissors. I liked what they did with Flashfire in that regard as well, and I think they just did an even better job of it with this set.

Going beyond that, to put a good punctuation on the last two sections of this article, I feel like the big decks that will come to fruition at the start of the upcoming season will be Blastoise, Virizion/Genesect, “Fighting Rush” (Lucario-EX/Landorus-EX/Landorus FFI… maybe Machamp?), Seismitoad, Magmortar/Electivire, and some form of Plasma. I think Yveltal is actually in a bit of a rough place now that it lost Dark Patch. I don’t see any point in keeping it in an all-Dark deck, but I have no idea what I would try and pair it with at this point.

Anyway, here is that silly Mega Venusaur-EX deck I have been playing with! I’m not saying the list is perfected, so if you are feeling crazy and want to pick it up and try it and have suggestions, run them by me! The deck is just a lot of fun, and you always get crazy looks and comments about busting out ole Venusaur.

Super Secret Plant Deck

Pokémon – 19

2 Venusaur-EX
2 M Venusaur-EX
2 Kangaskhan-EX
2 M Kangaskhan-EX
4 Duskull FLF
1 Dusclops FLF
2 Dusknoir BCR
2 Dusknoir FLF
1 Jirachi-EX
1 Virizion-EX

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Juniper
4 N

3 Colress
3 Skyla

 

4 Ultra Ball
4 Rare Candy

4 Max Potion
2 Switch

1 Super Rod

1 Scramble Switch

Energy – 11

7 Grass
4 Double Colorless

The deck is actually pretty simple. One of the card combinations I’d fallen in love with in testing was the pair of Dusknoir. Obviously we have the normal, standard damage shuffling Dusknoir we all know and love. The other Dusknoir is a bit more obscure… also uh, shuffling damage. Only this time to itself off of your Pokémon. The idea is to use it in similar capacity as say, Hydreigon or Aromatisse, alongside Max Potion to be “healing” your Active. Only instead of playing these narrow lines, by going with Dusknoir, we get access to both of these cards. While the quest originally started with a form of toolbox, I asked myself why? I started to branch out in terms of what I’d consider as an attacker and my eyes landed on a previous pet card of mine: Venusaur.

Venusaur has 230 HP and manages to avoid a KO even from a Muscle Banded Pyroar. Rayquaza and Charizard nuke it, but we’ll get to that later. Laser doesn’t even get to push it over the edge due to Virizion EX. The selling point of the deck is Venusaur’s automatic Paralysis. It plays the role of Accelgor perfectly alongside Dusknoir. Only instead of hiding behind things to disrupt an opponent, Venusaur prefers to just tank things with it’s face while running an opponent out of Switches. Against decks using Virizion, you aren’t just stuck doing 50 damage a turn and hiding behind Pokémon which just give up prizes: You smack for 100, and still tank all game.

To deal with fire decks, you can power up Mega Kangaskhan-EX as your tank in those games. Venusaur is also really, really slow. A lot of games, you’ll lead with a Kangaskhan while you power up Venusaur, or simply Scramble Switch into Venusaur off of Kangaskhan.

The deck isn’t quite good enough to be tier 1, but it’s really fun to play and gets to do a lot of cool things. Hopefully at least one other person enjoys the deck as much as I do!


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