Well Traveled

Reflections on Twenty Cities and Pre-Regionals Deck Diagnoses

Hey everyone! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dylan Dreyer. I’m currently a freshman at Towson University in Maryland majoring in graphic design. I’ve been playing Pokémon competitively since 2008 and the franchise has always been a part of my life. In my first article for Underground, I’d like to take a look back at City Championships as well as predict at what we can expect for the upcoming cycle of Winter Regionals.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel as if Cities went by very quickly this year. It’s crazy to think that we are already roughly halfway through the season.

For me personally, Cities was a blast. I spent all of my weekends hanging out with friends while getting to play Pokémon. I was able to attend 20 Cities this year, traveling as far as Georgia for the nine-day marathon. I’ll walk you through some of my more successful and interesting Cities experiences.

Table of Contents

An Explosive Start

benny wobbuffetpokemontime.tumblr.com
Wobbuffet by my side.

Directly following Thanksgiving, Pennsylvania always holds a three-day “mini-marathon” of Cities. I was able to attend all three and found some kind of success at each of them.

November 28, 2014: Blue Bell, PA (Donphan/Wobbuffet)

R1 vs. Bronzong/Dialga – W
R2 vs. Virizion/Genesect – W
R3 vs. Donphan – W
R4 vs. Donphan – L
R5 vs. Yveltal/Manectric – W
R6 vs. Donphan – ID
T8 vs. Virizion/Genesect/Manectric – WW
T4 vs. Donphan – WLW
T2 vs. Donphan – LL

I chose to try out Donphan for the first Cities of the year. I felt as if it had the most well-rounded matchups of any deck in the format at the time. Additionally, I liked that it played all non-Pokémon-EX. As you can see, the tournament went pretty well for me, with my loss in the finals being to Drew Guritzky in the mirror. He was able to set up a little faster than I was, allowing him to get Wrecks off quicker, ultimately leading him to the win.

November 29, 2014: New Holland, PA (Donphan/Wobbuffet)

Since we got home pretty late from Blue Bell the night before, I decided to keep the same deck and try again for New Holland. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say.

R1 vs. Night March – L
R2 vs. Quad Seismitoad – W
R3 vs. Fairies – W
R4 vs. Yveltal/Dusknoir – W
R5 vs. Pyroar/Beartic – W
R6 vs. Fairies – ID
T8 vs. Yveltal/Darkrai – WLW
T4 vs. Night March – WLW
T2 vs. Yveltal/Darkrai – WW

I won’t lie to you, I got pretty lucky to win this event. My round two win against Quad Seismitoad was nothing short of a miracle. Multiple tails and poor draws were what allowed me to steal a win this round against a horrible matchup. Additionally, I had a good bit of luck in my top 8 and finals matches against two relatively close matchups. But after all, luck is a huge part of this game we play, and that’s what it takes to win a tournament sometimes.

It was easy to see after this first weekend of Cities was over that Donphan would be the deck to beat going forward. Here’s the list I used during these first few Cities:

Pokémon – 14

4 Phanpy PLS

4 Donphan PLS

3 Wobbuffet PHF

2 Kyurem LTR

1 Hawlucha FFI

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Colress

4 Korrina

3 Lysandre


3 Robo Substitute

3 Float Stone

2 Muscle Band

2 Silver Bangle

2 VS Seeker

1 Ultra Ball

1 Computer Search


3 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 12

5 F

4 Strong

3 Double Colorless

Going into the first weekend, I predicted there would be a lot of Donphan, Virizion/Genesect, and Bronzong decks. To deal with the mirrors, I decided to play 2 Kyurem LTR, and for the Virizion/Genesect and Bronzong matchups, I upped my count of Wobbuffet to 3.

Following the mini-marathon in Pennsylvania, I continued to play Donphan for my next five Cities.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

After a relatively successful weekend in Pennsylvania, I saw no reason to stop playing Donphan.

December 6, 2014: Culpeper, VA (Donphan/Wobbuffet)

R1 vs. Virizion/Genesect – W
R2 vs. Yveltal/Manectric – L
R3 vs. Seismitoad/Garbodor – W
R4 vs. Manectric/Black Kyurem – W
R5 vs. Yveltal/Seismitoad – W
R6 vs. Donphan – ID
T8 vs. Yveltal/Manectric – WW
T4 vs. Yveltal/Seismitoad – LWL

December 7, 2014: York, PA (Donphan/Wobbuffet)

R1 vs. Yveltal/Manectric – L
R2 vs. Donphan – W
R3 vs. Plasma/Lugia – W
R4 vs. Manectric/Pyroar – W
R5 vs. Virizion/Genesect – ID
T4 vs. Virizion/Genesect – LWL

A pair of disappointing top 4s. My top 4 loss in Culpeper ended with me opening lone Phanpy and having it KO’d turn one by a Seismitoad-EX. The top 4 loss in York came down to an incredibly close game three with Virizion/Genesect, where my opponent drew a Juniper off an N to one. Regardless, I was able to net 60 more Championship Points, so no complaints.

A Change of Pace

hard charm art
Going “Hard” in Rockville.

After having played Donphan at 8 Cities straight, I decided it was time to give something else a try. The previous day at the Frederick, MD Cities, Jimmy Pendarvis had just won with an Yveltal/Hard Charm deck that really impressed me. I got the list from him and decided to give it a try in Rockville.

December 21, 2014: Rockville, MD (Yveltal/Hard Charm)

R1 vs. Yveltal/Darkrai – W
R2 vs. Bronzong/Dialga – W
R3 vs. Manectric/Seismitoad – L
R4 vs. Gengar/Trevenant – W
R5 vs. Donphan – W
R6 vs. Donphan – ID
T8 vs. Donphan – WW
T4 vs. Manectric/Kyurem – LL

I was overall very impressed with how the deck ran. My loss in the Top 4 was to Isaiah Rufus’ Manectric/Kyurem deck that ran Virbank City Gyms, which allowed him to counter my Shadow Circles and score 1HKOs on my Yveltals. I was able to make the second game close by getting a quick Darkrai powered up, but once it went down it was all over. Jimmy went on to win this event as well, and Nicholena Moon made top 8 with the same list.

Here’s the list we used for the event:

Pokémon – 10

3 Yveltal XY

3 Yveltal-EX

1 Seismitoad-EX

1 Darkrai-EX DEX

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Spiritomb LTR

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

3 Colress

1 Shauna

3 Lysandre

1 Pokémon Center Lady

1 Lysandre’s Trump Card


3 Hard Charm

3 Energy Switch

3 Max Potion

3 Ultra Ball

3 VS Seeker

2 Enhanced Hammer

1 Scramble Switch


3 Shadow Circle

Energy – 12

8 D

4 Double Colorless

The deck can really take opponents by surprise with its heavy counts of healing cards. Those combined with the Hard Charms leave your opponent struggling to obtain knockouts. Additionally, the Scramble Switch adds an element of surprise that can make for game-changing plays.

Five days after this event, I made the trip to Georgia for the marathon. There I met up with John Orgel, Nelson Chua, and the Sabelhaus brothers for a long journey of 9 City Championships.

Journey Through Georgia

December 26, 2014: Lawrenceville, GA (Aromatisse/M Manectric)

R1 vs. Donphan – W
R2 vs. Gengar/Sigilyph – W
R3 vs. Yveltal/M Manectric – W
R4 vs. Seismitoad/Garbodor – L
R5 vs. Mewtwo/Crobat – L
R6 vs. Night March – W

While I did unfortunately miss top cut for the first event of the marathon, I learned a little bit about a deck I hadn’t seen before. I was definitely taken off guard by the damage output my opponent in round five was able to pull off in one turn with his Mewtwo/Crobat deck. There was one situation where my opponent was able to deal 180 damage all in one turn using Golbats and Mewtwo’s Psydrive to 1HKO my Yveltal-EX.

My other loss was to Kyle Sabelhaus’ Seismitoad/Garbodor deck, which was to be expected. Aromatisse finds issue with Seismitoad/Garobodor, as its Fairy Transfer ability gets shut off by Garbotoxin and Quaking Punch shuts off Max Potions. Here’s the list for Aromatisse/M Manectric:

Pokémon – 18

3 Spritzee FLF

3 Aromatisse XY

2 Manectric-EX

2 M Manectric-EX

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Aegislash-EX

1 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Yveltal-EX

1 Landorus-EX

1 Xerneas XY

1 Spiritomb LTR

1 Suicune PLB

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Colress

3 Lysandre

1 Lysandre’s Trump Card


4 Ultra Ball

3 Max Potion

3 VS Seeker

1 Dowsing Machine

1 Startling Megaphone


4 Fairy Garden

Energy – 10

6 Y

4 Rainbow

I really enjoyed this deck because of its variety of options. The deck has answers for many popular Pokémon in the format, such as Manectric for Yveltal, Keldeo and Suicune for Donphan, and Spiritomb for Virizion/Genesect. This is what really attracted me to the deck. Unfortunately, the deck has basically no answer to a Quaking Punch combined with Garbodor, which was part of my downfall for the first day of the marathon.

December 27, 2014: Duluth, GA (Yveltal/Hard Charm)

R1 vs. Yveltal/M Manectric – W
R2 vs. Mewtwo/Crobat – T
R3 vs. Yveltal/Darkrai – W
R4 vs. Flareon/Slurpuff – L
R5 vs. M Manectric/Black Kyurem – W
R6 vs. Aromatisse/Seismitoad – W
T8 vs. Seismitoad/Garbodor – WLW
T4 vs. Seismitoad/Garbodor – WLL

I chose to go back to the same Yveltal/Hard Charm deck that I played back in Maryland. I figured it was a good call as it is a decent answer to Seismitoad/Garbodor and has all around pretty solid matchups. My top 4 match against Nelson Chua was very intense. It came down to a Sleep flip in plus three of time at the beginning of game three to decide who would move on. Unfortunately for me, Yveltal wasn’t ready to wake up and Nelson advanced to the finals. He would go on to beat Grafton Roll’s Flareon/Slurpuff deck to win the event.

The next few days of the marathon were dominated by Kyle Sabelhaus’ Aromatisse/Seismitoad deck. This was partially because of the near-absence of Virizion/Genesect decks. The Flareon decks piloted by the Roll family and others were enough to keep the Virizion decks away. However, once the Roll family headed back home to Florida, Virizion started to look a lot more appealing.

December 31, 2014: Roswell, GA (Virizion/Genesect)

R1 vs. Bronzong/Dialga – W
R2 vs. Aromatisse/Seismitoad – W
R3 vs. Aromatisse/M Manectric – W
R4 vs. Donphan – ID
R5 vs. Yveltal/Darkrai – ID
T8 vs. Aromatisse/M Manectric – WW
T4 vs. Bronzong/Dialga – LWL

Everything went according to plan… almost. I was able to hit three Aromatisse decks, netting me easy wins, but I wasn’t able to keep up with Nathan Brower’s Metal deck in top 4. The Bronzong vs. Virizion matchup is one of momentum. If one player misses a beat they will likely lose. Virizion/Genesect’s only hope of victory in this matchup is to outspeed the Metal deck and pray they aren’t able to come up with 1HKOs with Dialga. Unfortunately for me, in games one and three I whiffed my turn one Energy attachment to Virizion, which set me too far behind to have any kind of chance. Here’s the list I piloted to the last tournament of 2014:

Pokémon – 11

4 Virizion-EX

3 Genesect-EX

1 Drifloon PLB

1 Drifblim BW64

1 Deoxys-EX

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

1 Colress

4 Skyla

1 Lysandre

1 Shadow Triad


4 Ultra Ball

4 Muscle Band

2 VS Seeker

2 Energy Switch

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Switch

2 Escape Rope

1 Professor’s Letter

1 G Booster

Energy – 14

10 G

4 Plasma

An Expanded Experience

Shelmet’s reaction when paired versus V/G.

On January 10th, myself, Nicholena Moon, Jimmy Pendarvis, Dean Nezam, and Arron Sanyer made the trip to Westmont, NJ for an Expanded format Cities. None of us had any idea what to expect, so we kind of just winged it. I decided to try out Donphan/Accelgor.

January 10th, 2015: Westmont, NJ (Donphan/Accelgor)

R1 vs. Virizion/Genesect – L
R2 vs. Yveltal/Garbodor – W
R3 vs. Bronzong/Dialga – W
R4 vs. Virizion/Genesect – L
R5 vs. Yveltal/M Manectric – W
T8 vs. Pyroar – WW
T4 vs. Virizion/Genesect – LL

As you can see, Donphan/Accelgor takes a pretty bad matchup to Virizion/Genesect. It’s certainly not impossible to win, though. I found myself getting down to one or 2 Prizes, but my opponent was able to N me out of the win every time.

I think with a little more consideration and practice Donphan/Accelgor could really be a solid deck. Here’s the list that I threw together for Westmont:

Pokémon – 18

4 Phanpy PLS

4 Donphan PLS

4 Shelmet PLB

3 Accelgor NVI

2 Sigilyph LTR

1 Hawlucha FFI

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

2 Colress

4 Korrina

3 Lysandre

1 Lysandre’s Trump Card


3 Float Stone

2 Muscle Band

2 Silver Bangle

2 VS Seeker

2 Level Ball

1 Computer Search


2 Fighting Stadium

Energy – 10

4 Strong

4 Double Colorless

2 F

I used my Standard format list as a model to make this one. I ended up cutting Robo Substitute altogether, which may seem strange. I didn’t miss it too much, as Sigilyph was still a good wall. However, the problem ended up being that I often had no way to deny my opponent a Prize. Even against Virizion/Genesect, they would have Drifblim as an answer to my Sigilyphs. Perhaps adding in more Hawlucha or even a Reshiram would be a good way to deal with the Virizion matchup, but regardless there’s definitely more testing to be done with the deck. Unfortunately, due to school and other real life responsibilities, there’s hardly enough time to test for the Standard format, let alone the Expanded format.

Post-Cities Deck Diagnoses

Winter Regionals are right around the corner, with the first weekend of them being held on February 14 and 15. This leaves less than a month to prepare, which isn’t a whole lot of time. It can be very difficult to pick a deck for Regionals, as there are so many people in attendance. It’s hard to predict what everyone will be playing, but we can make our best guess and choose accordingly. Using what we know from Cities, we can see that Yveltal was overall the most successful deck, followed by Donphan. This means your deck choice should at least have a way to deal with both of these matchups. I’ll walk you through my thoughts on a variety of decks and how I feel about them as a choice for Regionals.


Yveltal is by far one of the strongest decks in the format. There are also a variety ways to build the deck. You can choose to focus on pure damage output, utilizing Hypnotoxic Lasers, Virbank City Gym, and Muscle Bands. You can also choose a more defensive route, with which you would use Hard Charms, Shadow Circles and healing cards, as seen above. Personally I prefer the defensive list, but both are definitely respectable.

Yveltal is a strong play for Regionals. The only thing the deck has to worry about is decks that utilize Manectric. One example of this is Aromatisse/M Manectric. Yveltal has a hard time 1HKOing M Manectric, and Manectric is able to 1HKO Yveltal back. Outside of that, Yveltal has relatively solid matchups, so definitely consider it for Regionals.


Donphan is one of my favorite decks of all time, and certainly my favorite deck in the current format. It has earned me a large portion of my current Championship Point total. Donphan is such a strong deck because of its ability to tech for the current metagame. If you’re expecting Yveltal decks, you can tech in Zekrom and Dedenne. If you’re expecting mirror matches, you can play Kyurem, while Wobbuffet and Sigilyph come in handy for the Virizion/Genesect matchup as well as in the Bronzong matchup.

My only issue with the deck is that it has a target on its head right now. Because of its success at Cities, people will certainly be ready to play against it. However, I certainly could not fault anyone for deciding to pilot the mighty elephant to Regionals.


This deck doesn’t feel like such a strong play in the current metagame. While it does have an answer to Donphan with Deoxys-EX making 1HKOs on Donphans, the matchup is still close thanks to Wobbuffet and Sigilyph. The deck is able to keep up with Yveltal decks thanks to Virizion’s Verdant Wind shutting off Hypnotoxic Lasers, but that matchup is also relatively close, particularly if the Yveltal player chooses to include a Spiritomb in their deck. Additionally, Virizion/Genesect takes a bad matchup to Night March and Flareon decks, as they are able to obtain quick 1HKOs with non-Pokémon-EX.

V/G does have a relatively strong Seismitoad matchup, though, due to Seismitoad’s Grass Weakness. Virizion also tends to have a pretty solid Aromatisse matchup, as you are able to deny them energy with Enhanced Hammers and KO their Aromatisse using Genesect’s Red Signal. If you are expecting a heavy amount of Seismitoad and Aromatisse at your Regional, Virizion/Genesect could be the deck for you.

Night March and Flareon

I am grouping these two variants together because of their similarity. They both utilize Battle Compressor to discard Pokémon for their damage output. Both decks are so strong because of their ability to dish out 1HKOs on EXs for such little energy. These variants find issue with Donphan, however, because it is a deck filled with non-Pokémon-EX. Night March in particular simply can’t afford to trade one for one in the Prize exchange. Additionally, Donphan has the option to run and hide behind a Robo Substitute, forcing a Lysandre if you want to take a Prize card.

Furthermore, both decks have trouble with Seismitoad-EX, since they lose the ability to play Battle Compressor in the early game. Flareon has an answer with Leafeon, but even that isn’t always enough to get the job done. Outside of these two matchups, Night March and Flareon decks look like pretty solid plays. If you’re not expecting too much Donphan or Seismitoad and your Regional, give these two decks a shot.


There are a few different ways to build Aromatisse. You could take the full Fairy route and focus on Xerneas-EX and other attackers like Florges-EX and Mewtwo-EX. You can build the deck with Seismitoad-EX and Malamar-EX like Kyle Sabelhaus did at the Georgia marathon, focusing on locking the opponent with Item lock and Sleep. You can also take the more teched-out approach and play Aromatisse/M Manectric-EX, like the one you saw earlier in this article.

The latter is my personal favorite version of the deck because of its options. It’s also the variant I have the most experience with, so I’ll focus in on it. As I said earlier, it finds relatively easy matchups with Donphan and Yveltal, which is great, seeing as they were two of the biggest decks at City Championships.

However, the deck has issues with Virizion/Genesect and Seismitoad/Garbodor. The deck can also be overwhelmed quite quickly by Night March and Flareon. While its excellent Donphan and Yveltal matchups make it a tempting choice, its other shaky matchups make it a questionable option for Regionals.


Pyroar was pretty quiet at City Championships. I think this was largely because of the early success of Donphan. Additionally, the release of M Manectric-EX likely scared off most of the Pyroar lovers out there. However, if your love for the Royal Pokémon has you itching to play it, the most successful way seems to be to pair it with Seismitoad-EX and a variety of Catcher-effects. This allows the deck to drag up threats that could potentially KO Pyroar. Once they’re all out of the way, Pyroar can come in and sweep for the rest of the match.

However, Donphan and M Manectric aren’t going anywhere any time soon, which doesn’t look too good for Pyroar heading into Week 1-of Winter Regionals.

M Manectric Variants

There are so many partners for Manectric! We’ve seen Manectric paired with Black Kyurem, Yveltal, Seismitoad, Suicune, and Landorus, just to name a few. All of these variants have a solid Yveltal matchup due to type advantage, but they seem to struggle against Donphan. Manectric’s Weakness to Donphan renders it useless in the matchup, leaving you with your choice of a partner in the deck. The problem with this is most of Manectric’s partners are heavily reliant on Manectric to power them up.

Manectric could be a good play if Yveltal is expected to be a dominant force, but if you think Donphan is going to be popular in your area I would avoid playing it.

Primal Clash Favorites

weakness policy primal clash artebay.com
It got the golden treatment — it must be good.

Recently, we received news that the Florida Regional Championships coming up in February will use the newest expansion, Primal Clash. Because the official release date of the set is February 4th and the event in Florida will take place on the 28th, the 21 days rule is satisfied, thus allowing the set to be legal.

At first, this set looks really exciting. We are introduced to an interesting new mechanic in Ancient Traits. Some of them are clearly better than others, namely Ω Barrage and α Growth. Additionally, we are given a few new Mega Pokémon that show some potential. However, as a whole, this set isn’t really that impressive. Here are some cards that I think could make an impact on the new format.

Archie’s Ace in the Hole and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick

These are two Supporter cards that have had the community talking. They allow you to bring either a Water or Fighting Pokémon into play, regardless of whether or not it’s a Basic, AND you get to draw 5 cards. The catch is Archie’s or Maxie’s needs to be the only card in your hand. Seems pretty good, but I feel as if it will be difficult to get these cards to be the only card in your hand. Sure you can use cards like Ultra Ball and Computer Search to discard other cards, as well as Maintenance to thin your hand out, but I think more often than not this gimmick will be too clunky to pull off.

It is interesting to note however that these cards pair well with Battle Compressor. This allows you to discard either Maxie’s or Archie’s, as well as the Pokémon you want to bring into play. You can then use VS Seeker to get back the Supporter. Overall, I don’t think these cards are very good for competitive play, but who knows — somebody may prove me wrong!

Professor Birch’s Observations

The community as a whole has seemed to look down on this card, but I think it will become a good replacement for Shauna. Shauna does get a guaranteed 5 cards, but Birch can net 7 if you’re lucky enough to flip heads. Sure you only get 4 if you flip tails, but 50% of the time you will draw 2 more than Shauna can offer. That’s a risk I think is worth taking.

Dive Ball and Repeat Ball

Two new Ball cards. It’s always nice to see more Pokémon search being introduced into the format. Of the two, I definitely think that Dive Ball is the better card. Being able to search Seismitoad-EX for no drawback seems pretty ridiculous. People (like Andrew Zavala) have also discussed how this card could make Stage 2 Water Pokémon such as Blastoise and Empoleon viable again. Repeat Ball is questionable to say the least. It seems like it could be good in fast decks that play 4 copies of its main attacker, but overall I think the card is mediocre. It’s just not as reliable as the other Ball options available to us.

Weakness Policy

This card definitely interests me. One of the immediate uses that comes to mind is with Seismitoad-EX. Seismitoad’s major flaw is its Weakness to Grass, namely Virizion-EX and Genesect-EX. Weakness Policy fixes this! There are certainly other Pokémon that would appreciate using this card, but if it’s not Seismitoad using Quaking Punch, you run the risk of the Weakness Policy being discarded by Startling Megaphone. It seems the only practical use of this card is in tandem with Seismitoad.

M Gardevoir-EX

There aren’t too many Pokémon that impress me from the new set, but this one certainly does. It has obvious synergy with Xerneas and Aromatisse. Xerneas’ Geomancy allows you to stockpile Y Energies and Aromatisse lets you move them around and heal your Pokémon. Gardevoir packs a mighty 210 HP, which is definitely a lot, but is just low enough so that Genesect-EX can still 1HKO it with G Booster paired with Deoxys-EX. Still, 210 HP with a Metal Weakness makes Gardevoir quite the tank. I think a M Gardevoir deck could definitely make for a solid play heading into the Boundaries Crossed to Primal Clash format.


That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. If you liked the article, make sure to show some support and give it a +1. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to write for you guys again in the near future. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via Facebook or here on SixPrizes. I’d be happy to help!

Finally, I’d like to thank all of my friends who made Cities so much fun. Pokémon is a lot of fun, but weekend after weekend, day after day of competition can get tiring, and having people to hang out with definitely makes it easier.

Thanks for reading!

– Dylan Dreyer

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