With all of the testing I’ve done so far, I can confidently say I really enjoy this format. It comes across as deceitfully simple yet there are so many little deciding factors like how one or two tech cards can make major differences. I think many players overestimate just how good a grasp they have on the format. The players who have an open mind and have thoroughly tested different ideas and concepts will be ready for Autumn Regionals.
This time last year I had a lot going on, including a big move, a new job, and a conflicting work schedule. This got me off to a really bad start of the 2013-2014 season and I knew it would be near impossible for me to actually earn an invite to Worlds. Things are very different this year for me. I’m settled into my apartment, I have weekends off, and I have some vacation time I can use. Combine all of this with a format I enjoy and find skillful, and I’m left wanting nothing more than to play some Pokémon. I decided this year I wanted to get a really good start to the season and see what kind of competitive position I could put myself in. I have my flight to Arizona booked the first week of October, and plan to attend Indiana Regionals, as well. We also have quite a few Cities in my area, so I’m hoping to get off to a strong start.
Last month I discussed a whole gauntlet of decks, but this month I’m going to focus more on one deck and talk about different variations of the deck I’m working with. With all of the hype surrounding Seismitoad, my natural reaction was to not only to try and perfect the deck, but also start working on hard counters for it as well. In my mind the clearest counter is Virizion/Genesect, and in my testing it’s been the most consistent deck I’ve played this format. For this article I want to discuss what went into building the deck, its advantages/disadvantages, and then my three different variations of the deck. After you get through reading this article I hope you’ll understand why I like the deck and why it’s one of my top choices for Autumn Regionals.
Virizion/Genesect is all about numbers and percentages. You want to find that balance between consistency and techs. I’m going to share how I decide upon how many copies of a card to run. Even though Virizion/Genesect is the main focus of this article, this information is extremely useful with deck building in general. This is also very useful information to have regardless if you’re just starting out or if you’re a seasoned vet.
I still remember being 16 years old and sitting and talking with my high school algebra teacher trying to find out exact percentages. Thankfully we don’t deal with Evolution lines as much anymore so the math is a bit simpler.
4 Copies of a Card
Odds of Opening with 1-4 Copies: ~40%, Odds of Prizing All 4 Copies: 0.003%
When I play 4 copies of a card, it’s a card that I want to see in the opening hand or a card that is so powerful or essential to the deck that I could realistically see myself using 4 copies over the course of the game.
Great examples of cards that I want to see in the opening hand are Virizion-EX and Ultra Ball. Very rarely does a player go through all 4 Virizion-EX or play all 4 Ultra Ball. Once you’re fully set up they serve very little purpose and are oftentimes discard fodder. However, the strength of these cards at the start of the game warrants the 4th copies. Ultra Ball gets interesting because you also really need to look at how much you’re trying to set up. Decks that need to set up multiple Pokémon early, such as Garbodor variants that need to set up an attacker and Garbodor at the beginning of the game, will normally play 4 Ultra Ball, however more simplified decks such as Big Basics (with no Garbodor) commonly cut the 4th Ultra Ball.
Examples of cards that are so essential I could see myself using a full 4 copies over the course of the game would be Hypnotoxic Laser and Double Colorless Energy. A good way to look at these cards is to think about how often throughout the game you find yourself needing them, or if they are cards you’re always hoping to draw into when you play Professor Juniper.
Pokémon-EX get a little bit more complicated because in theory you never need more than 3 copies of one. After all, if your opponent knocks out 3 Pokémon-EX then they win the game. A great example of an EX you would want a 4th copy of is Genesect-EX in the straight version of the Virizion/Genesect. It’s your main attacker and ideally you want to force your opponent to go through 3 of them to win the game. With this game plan in mind, prizing 1 of only 3 copies would allow your opponent an easier path to victory. Prizing 1 out of 3 copies will happen roughly 25% of the time.
Another realistic situation is to find yourself in a position where your opponent has KO’d 2 Genesect-EX and damaged a 3rd one. By playing a 4th copy you could retreat the damaged Genesect-EX for your 4th undamaged Genesect-EX, essentially forcing your opponent to fight through 3.5 Genesect-EX. You almost never see the 4th copy of an EX though in decks that have a split focus (such as Seismitoad/Landorus) or in decks that have a backup attacker (like Yveltal/Garbodor with a tech Darkrai-EX).
3 Copies of a Card
Odds of Opening with 1-3 Copies: ~32%, Odds of Prizing All 3 Copies: 0.06%
When I’m playing 3 copies of a card, in many cases I might want 4 copies of that card, but I cut it down to 3 in the interest of space. The other reason I might play 3 copies of a card is because it’s something I want to see often, but I don’t necessarily want to see it in the opening hand and it’s not game changing enough to warrant the 4th copy.
An example of a card I’d like to have a 4th copy of, but I cut down to 3 in the interest of space, would be Energy Switch. Energy Switch is extremely good in Virizion/Genesect, but it’s not crucial enough that you need 4 copies of it. It’s also not very useful until the mid or late game.
On the other hand, an example of a card I’d like to see often, but isn’t essential to see in the opening hand, would be Muscle Band. The extra 20 damage that Muscle Band provides is huge, but very rarely as I’m drawing my opening hand am I saying to myself, “Come on Muscle Band!”
Another question you can ask yourself when you’re trying to decided between 3 or 4 copies of a card is, “How often do I find myself losing games because I didn’t have the card right when I needed it?” It’s not uncommon to end up with a loss because you didn’t have a Hypnotoxic Laser, but it’s far less common to lose because you couldn’t draw into an Energy Switch.
2 Copies of a Card
Odds of Opening with 1-2 Copies: ~22%, Odds of Prizing All 2 Copies: 0.88%
When I’m only playing 2 copies of a card it’s more of a borderline tech, but realistically I could see myself using more than just 1 per game. In the Pokémon lineup, a great example of this would be Garbodor. Though I wouldn’t consider Garbodor a tech, it’s a Bench sitter and not the main focus. After all, we really don’t have games where we slam Garbodor after Garbodor into the opponent. Garbodor is important enough to the deck that we need to try to set it up every game, so a 1-1 line leaves us too vulnerable to bad Prizes or Lysandre. However, since it’s a Bench sitter and not a main attacker we don’t need a thick 3-3 or 4-4 line in most cases.
For the Trainer lineup, 2 copies of a card is normally a tech that we could possibly need more than 1 of over the course of the game, but it’s not crucial enough to the deck that we need to play higher counts. Normally I like to have my 2-counts-of cards searchable, however it isn’t always possible depending on the list.
Great examples of cards that end up with 2 spots in the Trainer lineup are Shadow Triad and Switch. Take Shadow Triad for example and you can see it’s really important for Virizion/Genesect deck to be able to get back G Booster or Plasma Energy. In many cases Shadow Triad for either G Booster or Plasma Energy is a game-winning play. However, Shadow Triad isn’t that great in the opening hand and you really don’t want to see the card before the mid or late game. Realistically you probably don’t need to get back G Booster or a Plasma Energy more than twice to close a game out.
1 Copy of a Card
Odds of Opening with 1 Copy: ~12%, Odds of Prizing the 1 Copy: ~10%
If I’m playing only 1 copy of a card it’s almost always a tech and normally has to be searchable. In the Pokémon lineup this means I’m playing 3 or 4 Ultra Ball, while in the Trainer lineup I’m able to search it out with Skyla or Jirachi-EX.
Normally the tech card is something that I only need 1 copy of in a game, or something small I’m using to try and get an edge on my opponent and tip a game in my favor. A great example of a tech card that I only need 1 copy of would be Mr. Mime PLF in the Pokémon lineup. With a high Ultra Ball count Mr. Mime is pretty easy to search out and rarely will the opponent devote a turn of attacking to deal with Mr. Mime. It’s also a pretty situational card and not used in every matchup. A Trainer example would be Professor’s Letter. It’s nice to have the option of turning a Skyla into 2 Energy in the early game, but rarely would we need to make that play twice in a single game.
An example of a tech card that we use to gain an edge over the opponent and attempt to shift the game in our favor would be Max Potion or even regular Potion. By devoting just 1 space to a healing card you can deny your opponent a crucial knockout or force them to play differently. It’s not the main focus of the deck, but an option you have available to you.
Note: Percentages in the section drawn from X-Act’s articles on Pojo.
In my last article I went through my Virizion/Genesect/Dragonite list. I’ve had a little bit over a month to continue working with the list and testing the matchups. Overall I still really like my list, but the one issue I kept running into is it lacked that 1HKO power I feel the deck needs. I did run G Booster for big crucial KOs, but with such a thin Genesect-EX line and no Energy Switch it was near impossible to get G Boosters off turn after turn.
In the last month I’ve had the chance to test another variation of the deck. I decided to try pairing Dragonite-EX with Altaria BCR to give the deck the ability to get consistent 1HKOs. You only need 2 Altaria in play alongside a Muscle Band to have Dragonite-EX hitting for 180 damage.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two builds:
3-3 Altaria BCR
In most games you’ll only need to set up 2 Altaria and then rely on Muscle Band to get that last little bit of damage. Playing a 3-3 line gives you a bit more breathing room and leaves you less vulnerable to bad Prizes or early KOs by your opponent.
Not an ACE SPEC you see played very often, but it is the perfect ACE SPEC for Dragonite-EX. This also allowed me to go a little bit lighter on the Super Scoop Up count, freeing room for the Altaria line.
Many of the cuts I made in the Trainer lineup were to make room for Altaria. I feel really confident in the Trainer lineup, but depending on your meta a 2nd copy of Startling Megaphone might be needed. The Garbodor matchup gets a little bit more interesting since you don’t play Genesect-EX. A Seismitoad player might feel more confident attacking with Seismitoad once they see you don’t play any other Grass attackers than Virizion-EX or they might still avoid it altogether. If they don’t feel comfortable attacking with Seismitoad a majority of the game or if they aren’t pairing Seismitoad with Garbodor, then the 2nd copy of Startling Megaphone would be a huge asset.
For the Energy lineup, not needing to playing Plasma Energy also freed up a few spaces and allowed me to play a more focused line of Energy. With 9 Grass Energy and 4 Lighting Energy alongside 1 Professor’s Letter and 1 Energy Retrieval, having the right Energy when you need it has never been an issue.
In the end I’m not sure if I really like this variation of the deck better than my Virizion/Dragonite/Genesect adaptation. This list puts a much larger emphasis on using Dragonite-EX. With my other version I would always try to Emerald Slash onto a Genesect-EX and then drop Dragonite-EX to clean up. There is a lot more setup with list, because in most games you need to set up 2 Altaria. You’re also much more vulnerable to Garbodor since all the Pokémon in the deck revolve around using Abilities. The deck also has no out to Safeguard, though I don’t feel those Pokémon will see a ton of play, and Pyroar would be an auto-loss for either version.
I really enjoy playing Dragonite-EX and the deck is one of those where the game is fun because of all the little combos you have. However, I keep coming back to same point of asking myself why am I playing Dragonite over a more streamlined and consistent Virizion/Genesect deck? Despite all of the cool little tricks Dragonite can pull off, like looping attackers and making it very hard for the opponent to get KOs, I feel like it takes considerably more effort to do the exact same thing that Genesect does.
What I’m saying is straight Virizion/Genesect is much better at being aggressive while Dragonite is much better at being defensive. In a major tournament like Regionals with a strict 50-minute time limit I’d prefer to have the highly aggressive build over the more defensive one.
When Furious Fists came out, Beartic did get some attention though it was completely overshadowed by the hype for all of the Fighting support. I think people just saw it as a natural Landorus-EX and Pyroar counter and started to slap it into their builds of Virizion/Genesect. However, I don’t believe the solution is as simple as throwing Beartic into your deck and suddenly having positive matchups across the board. You have to take some things into consideration like the sheer number of spots that you need to devote to make sure you are effectively countering what you want to counter.
For example, to counter Pyroar, a 1-1 line or even 2-2 line is probably not enough to guarantee that you’ll beat it. To have a very strong Pyroar matchup, you’ll probably need to play either a Sacred Ash or even a 3-3 Beartic line. On the other hand, if all you’re looking for is a simple answer to Landorus-EX then a 2-2 line, or even a 1-1, will suffice.
Since Beartic does damage based on the Defending Pokémon’s Retreat Cost, you’ll also need to find room for a minimum of 2 Startling Megaphones to deal with those pesky Float Stones. To score the 1HKO, much of the time Beartic will need a Muscle Band, so it’s important to play them quite conservatively as well.
Before I talk any more about Beartic, let’s take a look at my list:
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 34
Energy – 14
There are a lot of spots that you can argue with me on in this list, but I’ll do my best to explain and even defend my choices.
2-2 Beartic FFI
I went ahead and played a pretty standard 2-2 Beartic line. As I discussed earlier, if you just want a little extra help against Landorus-EX or to create a 7th Prize I would suggest playing a 1-1 line. If you want a strong Pyroar matchup, I would suggest a 2-2 line, 3-2 line, or even a 3-3 line alongside a Sacred Ash. Beartic is easy to set up and actually quite beefy for a Stage 1. It also has the added benefit of forcing a Landorus player to attach a Float Stone rather than a Muscle Band to Landorus.
It really surprises me when I see players devote 4-6 spots to play Beartic, but then only play 1 Startling Megaphone. Float Stone is extremely commonly played right now and completely counters Beartic. If you’re in a matchup where you want Beartic, but need to discard your 1 Startling Megaphone early, then you’re out of luck if the opponent attaches a Float Stone.
A nice little benefit of playing Beartic is that the opponent, in many cases, has to avoid attaching Muscle Band to Landorus-EX and instead can only attach Float Stone. It does help to alleviate some early-game pressure.
I needed to make space in the deck to include Beartic. Since the most common Bench damage in the format is Landorus-EX, and Beartic already does a good job of answering that, dropping Mr. Mime seemed more acceptable. Of course you still have Kyurem PLF and Genesect-EX to worry about. This isn’t a drop I wanted to make, but I wanted to keep other stuff in the deck more.
We saw Virizion/Genesect/Raichu decks play DCE, so it might seem like a natural inclusion here. However, with the loss of Super Rod the Energy lineup gets a bit more complicated. Also, Beartic is a bit beefier and probably won’t need to be streamed like Raichu turn after turn (like we saw in Raichu vs. Yveltal games).
One of the cons of this variation is that you have to devote 4-5 spots to Beartic, and then another one to a second Startling Megaphone, so that you’re not left with much room for techs. The best way to think of it is that Beartic is your tech, but it’s also one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of straight Virizion/Genesect.
This is my personal favorite build of the deck and, in my opinion, also my strongest. For Regionals, straight Virizion/Genesect is about the only variation of Virizion I’m really considering. Sometimes heavily-teched decks with tons of different options pay off, however, I don’t think Virizion/Genesect needs all of that. A constant stream of Megalo Cannons and G Boosters should be the main focus and ultimately enough to win the game.
That being said, I’ve become a pretty big fan of the deck running some healing cards. Everybody gets so used to having perfect math that a “Heal X damage from 1 of your Pokémon” card really messes with people’s calculations and takes away knockouts they thought they had. Even the threat of healing cards forces an opponent to play differently instead of trying to set up perfect knockouts.
My list has a good balance between speed and consistency, while also having healing techs which throw a lot of matchups in my favor. Take a look at my list:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 36
Energy – 14
Every card and every count is in this deck is for a particular reason and I’d like to take a moment to walk you through some of the more interesting ones:
Last season, only playing 3 Genesect-EX was standard, and until Andrew Estrada won Worlds the 4th copy was nearly unheard of. This season, though, I feel 4 copies is going to be pretty standard; ironically the change has nothing to do with Andrew’s win. The first reason I included the 4th copy is because it gave the deck an 8th good opener. With only 10 Pokémon in the deck we want to decrease our odds of starting Mr. Mime or Jirachi-EX. The second is we lost Super Rod due to the rotation, so some unfortunate Prizes could easily put you in a bad spot.
On the surface Genesect-EX may not seem like a strong opener, but in some cases it can be even better than Virizion-EX. With so many outs to basic Grass Energy and Colress Machines it’s very easy to find yourself in a position where you can use Megalo Cannon T2. If I open Genesect-EX and I have no clear path for a T2 Virizion I’ll shoot for a T2 Genesect-EX. On T3 is usually when I make my first Energy drop on to a Virizion (if I go this route), so I have that option to fall back on.
People seem to have this really negative view of Jirachi where it’s nothing more than 2 free Prizes for your opponent. The only thing that ever really worries me is opening with it. If you don’t open with it then the only times you should play it down are when you A) are getting a Prize that turn (most likely 2 from an EX) — for example Jirachi, to Shadow Triad, to G Booster, or B) you desperately need a Supporter and will probably be in a losing game state without it (in which case the risk of losing 2 Prizes on Jirachi-EX is negligible).
I’ve been playing 4 Skyla in the deck since from the beginning and I always really liked how much consistency they bring to your openings. Sometimes the 4th one does seem like overkill and I’ve been contemplating dropping it for a 2nd Colress.
I really can’t believe that none of the Virizion/Genesect lists in the top 4 from this year’s World Championships played a copy of Lysandre. I understand the deck can use Plasma Energy to bring up Benched Pokémon. However, I think a single copy that is searchable with Jirachi-EX is too good not to play. The rising popularity of Garbodor will probably also help the playability of Lysandre.
I can’t even begin to describe how incredible this card is for the deck. It really messes with people’s math and also helps considerably in the Garbodor matchup. It also does a lot to shift the mirror match more in your favor. I tried testing where my opponent ran 2 in his list and I ran none in mine and it made a pretty noticeable difference. Right now I’m only running 1 copy of the card due to space, but if I were you, I’d start by testing 2 copies and see how you like it. It’s also important to remember that it’s searchable with Jirachi-EX.
I really like Bicycle in the deck because I feel like it adds a little bit of speed. Originally I didn’t think it would be something that would be noticed enough to warrant the spot, but I was definitely wrong. It also combos really well with the 4 Ultra Ball to get you down to a lower hand size and the heavy Skyla count allowing you to turn Skyla into a draw card if needed.
When I tested a single copy of Colress Machine earlier in the season I never really liked it. It wasn’t until I started testing higher counts did it really find its place in the deck for me. It gives the deck Energy acceleration, makes G Boosters easier, gives Genesect-EX an Energy to retreat with, etc.
I keep alternating between 2 copies and 3 copies and trying to find a balance between seeing it enough where it will make a difference and finding it to be a dead card. I started off with 3 copies, but opted to go down to 2 copies to find room for the Pokémon Center Lady.
Outside of trying to get Virizion-EX in the Active position turn 1, Switch has very little impact on the game. By devoting only 2 spots I feel confident I can search it out in the early game when I need it, but I don’t feel like I’m wasting space on it.
It’s also important to remember that if you open with Virizion-EX then you don’t need Switch and if you open Genesect-EX then Colress Machine will give you 2 more outs to get Virizion-EX Active. Basically 8 out of the 10 Basics in the deck give you a strong shot at a T2 Emerald Slash.
My 1 copy of Herbal Energy follows right in suit with my thinking on Pokémon Center Lady. I really like healing cards right now in Virizion/Genesect when I can add them in without killing my consistency. Players are so used to getting perfect math and never having to worry about healing cards. I’ve noticed big difference in both Virizion/Genesect mirrors and the Landorus/Garbodor matchup.
I like 1 Cassius because it can double as a switching card to get a Pokémon out of the Active spot, but more importantly it can remove damaged or weak Pokémon (like Jirachi-EX) off the board and deny your opponent those Prizes. With such a limited supply of Grass Energy in the deck it’s also a way to send some back to the deck. You can set up some nice (although rare) combos of Cassius followed up with an Emerald Slash.
After reading this article your Virizion/Genesect deck might look identical to mine or it might be different. The more I worked with this deck the more I realized just how many different ways you could go with techs and counts. My hope is that you got some ideas you can take and apply to your own testing. Please pay special attention to Pokémon Center Lady and Herbal Energy. They are so easy to overlook, but can have dramatic effects on shifting matchups in your favor. If you’re looking for something to test against that will be representative of the meta then I suggest my straight Virizion/Genesect list. I feel it’s the variation that will be the popular and it’s also the variation that I feel the best about.
I’m really excited to start the new season in Phoenix, Arizona on October 4 and then I’ll be playing at the Ft. Wayne, Indiana Regionals on October 18th. They had a great turnout last year and I expect a lot of great players and close friends to be there so I’m totally psyched.
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