Let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Denise, and I have been playing Pokémon for about 2 years. I wish I could play more often, but unfortunately, my workload at university won’t allow it. I play most of my tournaments in the UK, but officially live in Belgium, which means I play my Nationals there. The Regional, referenced in the title and to be discussed, was the first tournament I had played since Worlds.
Once my holidays started, I decided to open my own PTCGO account to test the new format. I was pretty unfamiliar with the new cards and had no clue where to begin. I knew Donphan was popular, but quite frankly I had little interest in playing the mirror match all day. Soon I realised I would probably have to revert back to a new variant of the good old Yveltal deck. Though, having played the deck for many months at the end of last season, the thought of having to play Yveltal filled me with apathy. There are only so many times a person should have to announce Y Cyclone in their life, and I think I’d far exceeded it. I am a strong believer that any hobby, first and foremost, should be fun and therefore playing a deck I had grown bored of would not be the right way to start the season. This is the reason I decided to have some fun and build Tool Drop.
Initially, I learnt of this deck after being linked to a video of a Japanese player using Trubbish to dominate a Lugia-EX, and immediately knew it was something I was interested in playing. Last year, due to the high presence of Darkrai-EX/Garbodor decks, Tool Drop had to wait in the wings for a while, until it became a little more viable. This indeed happened during the winter City Championship period and I did surprisingly well with the deck. However, my affinity for the deck was cut short when Startling Megaphone was announced, and I spent many weeks in bed crying, trying to convince myself I could still play my favorite deck. Sadly, Tool Drop’s days were numbered, and I needed to move on.
With the release of Phantom Forces, Tool Drop gained some new… uhh… tools? Dimension Valley being of unprecedented importance to the way the deck would now function. Startling Megaphone discarded all of our Tools, which included our Exp. Share from Benched Trubbishes and removed our ability to chain attackers. Dimension Valley, allowing us to attack for a single P Energy, rids us of this issue. We also gained Head Ringer and Jamming Net, options that again, relieved some of the pressure applied by Startling Megaphone as they attach themselves to opposing Pokémon and are difficult to remove.
Even with all of this, many thought it was futile to play the deck because even with the boosts in power the deck gained, it lost a lot too. Level Ball was arguably the best card in the deck last year, and Super Rod (crucially) got us back our Trubbishes. Add to this the popularity of Seismitoad-EX — a card that directly counters an Item-based deck — and we were in pretty rough shape.
Regardless, I decided to give it a try. I noticed the deck still did extremely well against EX-based decks, but really struggled with Donphan (one of the most popular decks in the UK), therefore I added some cards to make the matchup more favorable. High counts of both Hard Charm and Lysandre to be specific. I’m aware that this is not the best deck in the format, but I wanted to play a deck I would enjoy which I was also relatively comfortable with, given my hiatus from the game.
I stuck to my plan and played Tool Drop, being the only Tool Drop deck at the tournament, people did not really expect to see this deck, but I got a lot of fun comments on it.
In the end I decided to play the following list:
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 43
3 Head Ringer
1 Life Dew
Energy – 8
Of course, one of the keystones of a Tool Drop deck is the Tool Drop Trubbish. This Pokémon attacks for two P Energies and does 20 damage for each Tool in play (both your’s and your opponent’s). As one can appreciate, this damage can add up quickly. The real downside of Trubbish is its low HP, with almost every popular Pokémon in the current format able to 1HKO it.
To increase the amount of Tools in play, you must play a number of Toolbox Sigilyphs. This Pokémon can hold up to 4 Tools! You can see where this is going and how quickly the damage can accumulate.
Generally you wouldn’t use this Pokémon’s attack, but under the right circumstances it can be pretty beneficial, especially after being Megaphoned. Its attack is called Cutting Wind, which does 70 damage for 3 Energies, but with up to 4 Tools attached you can see how it can benefit from the power of several Muscle Bands/Silver Bangles attached.
I opted to play 3 instead of 4 for the sole reason that you never need more than 2 Sigilyphs Benched. A 4th one would simply clog up the deck.
About a year ago Sami came up with the cool idea of adding a Safeguard Sigilyph which could stall up front until the deck is properly set up. Tool Drop, being a deck that generally benefits from 1HKOing Pokémon, could promote Safeguard Sigilyph and stall behind it until it had enough Tools in play to Knock Out Pokémon in one go. You generally don’t wish to do 160 damage, lose a Trubbish and then hit the same Pokémon again to Knock it Out after which you’ll lose another Trubbish. Instead you wait until you have enough Tools in play so you can trade each Trubbish for a Knock Out.
A nice (weird) little benefit was that people confused this Sigilyph with the Toolbox Sigilyph and often attacked it thinking they could Knock it Out, wasting a turn.
Lysandre is crucial in giving yourself the ability to KO threats and interact with Donphan decks. It is often your only way out against Seismitoad, allowing you to break the Item lock by stalling for a turn. Generally you’ll be attacking the Active, but against Donphan you don’t want to waste turns Knocking Out a Robo Substitute because you can’t afford to trade 1 Prize for no Prize.
Additionally, it’s important to Knock Out the attacking Donphan as they will be forced to invest several resources on one Donphan to 1HKO your Hard Charmed Trubbish. To 1HKO a Hard Charmed Trubbish, your opponent will need a Muscle Band and two Strong Energies on his or her Donphan. If you can Lysandre this Donphan and Knock it Out, this will result in a huge setback for your opponent. This gives you a chance to quickly get a head start.
Against Seismitoad you often just need a turn in which you can play some additional Tools down so you can apply enough pressure with the attack.
After being Megaphoned it is important to get your Tools back into your deck therefore this card is a must. Also since Super Rod has rotated, this is our only way to get Trubbish back in the deck. I tested playing several copies but resetting your deck more than once is just not necessary.
I mainly play this card as a one-sided effect, but it can also be beneficial in hindering your opponent’s strategies in which they thin useless cards from their deck. Decks that rely on attaching Energies from the discard pile will also be set back. A nice side effect is getting back Lysandre and VS Seeker, and the reuse of Life Dew which is very important in ensuring your opponent can’t take a Prize card when they Knock Out your Trubbish.
VS Seeker may simply be the best card in the format as it allows you to reuse Lysandres and all other Supporters, while increasing your consistency by letting you repeatedly play the best Supporters in the game. While in the past one was forced to play inferior Supporters like Shauna, Colress, and Skyla, one can now rely on VS Seeker to ensure draw consistency.
One of the main reasons I previously played Dowsing Machine in this deck was to get back Supporters. VS Seeker is a great solution to get Supporters back and this gives us a chance to play a different ACE SPEC (which I will discuss in a moment).
Though the current format introduced many great cards for Tool Drop, the rotation of Level Ball was a real setback for Tool Drop. Ultra Ball is our only option, and we need four.
After being Startling Megaphoned, it is important to draw as many cards as possible. I know Roller Skates is very volatile, but besides Bicycle there isn’t really any other choice. The reason I opted for a higher count of Roller Skates is simply because your hand tends to be a bit larger playing Tool Drop which often renders Bicycle useless.
I opted for four Muscle Band and zero Silver Bangle simply because the current format often combines several EX attackers and non-EX attackers in a deck. Last season it was common to solely use EX attackers in a deck, but because of the recent trend to combine both types or have only non-EXs (Donphan) it is not beneficial to potentially increase your damage by 10 (against an EX) while on the other side you may not do any extra damage at all (non-EX).
A guaranteed 20 extra damage seems optimal, in my opinion. It is especially important to do this extra 20 damage against non-Pokémon-EX with high HP like Kyurem, Donphan, Zekrom, Yveltal, etc. If you feel the metagame in your area has a higher degree of EX attackers it is definitely worthwhile to play some Silver Bangles as well.
Hard Charm was originally not part of my list. Only when I understood that Donphan generally deals 80 damage, I realized this would be a great addition to the list as this will allow the Trubbish to survive with 10 HP. By forcing your opponent to hit your Pokémon twice, you often take 1 Prize per turn while your opponent only takes a Prize every other turn. This means that this matchup is not as unfavorable as initially thought. I am not saying this is an easy matchup, but makes it a lot more favorable than it used to be.
I also realised that by attaching several Hard Charms to a Sigilyph it is often extremely difficult for your opponent to put any damage on this Sigilyph giving you some extra time to set up or even use Cutting Wind to attack. For example, when facing Donphan, Sigilyph has 90 HP but is Resistant to Fighting and if you would add 2 Hard Charm your opponent will have to deal at least 150 damage to Knock it Out. Of course you can add even more Hard Charms, but for the sake of my argument I would like to keep it rather realistic and to provide you with a strategy that is sustainable throughout the game.
On the other hand, a Donphan has 130 HP which means that two hits by Cutting Wind or a Sigilyph with 3 Muscle Bands knocks the Donphan out in one hit.
3 Head Ringer
Head Ringer is definitely another great asset to Tool Drop. You disadvantage your opponent while also increasing the amount of damage you do. I chose 3 Head Ringers because people mostly don’t play down more than 3 Pokémon-EX each game. Obviously if you can find space, add a fourth Head Ringer! This will increase frequency of which you draw it early, which is crucial to give yourself a greater chance to play a Tool on your opponent’s Pokémon before they do. This is especially important with Spirit Link as you’ll force them to end their turn after evolving.
Additionally, because Head Ringer is attached to your opponent’s Pokémon it is difficult for them to get rid of it as it is unaffected by Startling Megaphone. The reason I opted for Head Ringer as opposed to Jamming Net is simple. Jamming Net reduces your opponent’s attack by 20 damage, but because most Pokémon-EX do more than 90 damage there is no need to reduce their damage by 20 as they will Knock you Out in one hit regardless. Head Ringer forces them to attach another Energy which often gives you an extra turn to set up or press your advantage.
1 Life Dew
Life Dew is especially important when trading Prizes with non-EX decks. By forcing them to Knock Out a Life Dewed Trubbish they will have to Knock Out yet another Pokémon which gives you more time to win the game. I prefer Life Dew above Computer Search in this deck because we have a lot of draw cards already like Roller Skates, Bicycle, and draw Supporters while we also play several copies of each card meaning we’re in decent shape to draw the card we would have Computer Searched for.
I opted not to play Dowsing Machine because of VS Seeker. This deck mostly searches for Supporters from the discard pile, and with VS Seeker in the format, there is simply no need for Dowsing Machine (there is generally no urgent need to reuse other Items such as Tools and Stadiums as we play four copies of each).
Dimension Valley is very important to Tool Drop’s resurgence. Dimension Valley reduces the cost of your attacks by one, allowing Trubbish to attack for a single Energy which means the deck is very fast while also powerful (there have been instances where I dealt over 230 in damage for a single P Energy). Additionally, it also counters Virbank City Gym, which also allowed me to cut Switch as we generally don’t care to take 10 damage for Poison.
1-1 Masquerain PLB
This line was essential in the old format as you had to be move Tools around to change Exp. Shares from one Trubbish to another. Moving Exp. Shares is no longer necessary with the introduction of Dimension Valley. Since we only need one Energy to attack there is no longer the need to play Exp. Share and to move Tools around. Of course it is always a nice luxury to be able to move them around but is by no means necessary.
A Third Lysandre
Lysandre is a great card, and adding a third one means you draw it more often. This is especially important in the Seismitoad matchups because you can’t use VS Seeker to reuse one from the discard pile.
There are several people who play Garbodor in this deck to give yourself a chance against some unbeatable matchups. At the moment we have an auto-loss against Pyroar, and by adding a Garbodor we at least have an out against these decks.
Personally I believe that if a matchup is already incredibly unfavorable, you can just as well take the loss and improve your matchups across the board instead, but that’s just my opinion. If you want an out against Pyroar, this could be a viable option.
As you can see my list only plays Muscle Bands, but if you expect a lot of EX-based decks in your upcoming tournaments, it can definitely be worthwhile to add some Silver Bangles to the list.
Personally I would love to play more Bicycles. The deck needs a lot of draw cards to recover from being Megaphoned, and more Bicycles would definitely be a good option. Sadly my list is so tight I couldn’t add any more.
Round 1 vs. Jake Walvin (M Manectric-EX)
During my first round I played Jake Walvin; one of the better players in the UK. When he didn’t flip over a Donphan or Seismitoad I was rather relieved. It became evident pretty quickly his deck was focused around M Manectric-EX, which is decent for Tool Drop.
I won a quick Game 1 in which Jake drew dead. Jake won Game 2 in which I drew dead. After about 5 minutes when everyone was still playing their first game we started Game 3. I was able to get a good start and attached Head Ringer to his Manectric-EX which meant he couldn’t evolve into the Mega without ending his turn. This was very important in the matchup.
Throughout the game, I was able to get 1HKOs on his Pokémon and was even able to Knock Out his M Manectric-EX in one turn by dealing 230 damage, which pretty much ended the game. He still made the game very close after playing an N later in the game, but luckily I could Lysandre for the win.
Round 2 vs. Travis Carpenter (Donphan)
In my second round I was paired against Travis, an unknown face to me. My big fear came true and he flipped over a Phanpy. I set up and ensured to attach Hard Charm to all of my Trubbish to force him to 2HKO them while hopefully I was able to take 1HKOs. It was very important to Lysandre his Donphans as I couldn’t afford wasting turns by Knocking Out Robo Substitutes. Luckily, VS Seeker allowed me to reuse my Lysandre repeatedly, which helped me win both games and proceeded to round 3 with a 2-0 record.
Round 3 vs. Melissa Strang (Seismitoad-EX)
Round 3 I was paired against one of my friends Mel. Yet another of my nightmare matchups, this time I ran into Seismitoad-EX. I knew I needed to have a quick set up to win this matchup, sadly this didn’t happen in Game 1 and I conceded the game after I realized I was too far behind.
Game 2 I went first and was able to play a reasonable amount of Tools down and when the first Quaking Punch hit, I had enough Tools in play to 2HKO her Seismitoad-EX while she often had to take several turns to KO my Hard Charmed Trubbish. A similar scenario happened in Game 3 and I was able to win this unfavorable matchup. I must admit how important Lysandre is in this matchup so you can play some additional Tools down in case you weren’t able to have a proper setup.
Round 4 vs. Charles Barton (Donphan)
Yet another Donphan deck, I had good setup and was able to run through his deck while he drew dead. Sadly the same didn’t happen in Game 2 and I wasn’t able to win this game. We went to Game 3 and time was called so we ended up drawing the game. If time hadn’t been called I would have won this game, but sadly this was one of the few occasions where I ended up drawing which is rather unusual for Tool Drop as it is generally rather fast and able to play three games within 50 minutes.
Round 5 vs. Matthew King (Seismitoad-EX/Yveltal-EX/Charizard-EX/Darkrai-EX)
He had incredibly quick setups where I lagged behind. Whenever I tried to Lysandre up one of his Pokémon to gain a turn to play some Tools down he was always able to retreat immediately. This impaired me from setting up and left me with a 3-1-1 record.
Round 6 vs. Christopher (Seismitoad/Pyroar)
I had to win this game to make the top cut, but sadly the moment he flipped over a Seismitoad and Litleo I waved goodbye to a potential top cut spot. To make matters worse he also played two Startling Megaphones and I basically had no chance against this deck. I ended the tournament with a 3-2-1 record earning 16th place at my first tournament this season.
Overall I was pretty happy with the deck and didn’t regret playing it at all. I learned a lot about the different matchups and how to approach them. I wouldn’t play the Safeguard Sigilyph anymore as I felt it didn’t add anything to the deck. I fully realize I struggle to beat some of the most popular decks, but as mentioned before I was mainly looking for a fun deck which was relatively decent.
I think people exaggerate when they say Seismitoad is unbeatable with Tool Drop. When you are able to play down as little as 5 Tools or 4 of which one is Muscle Band, you can consistently 2HKO Seismitoad-EX while they are sometimes unable to 2HKO your Trubbish. Of course this is not our ideal strategy, but hey it isn’t an ideal matchup.
I think Tool Drop did well in general and I definitely had a lot of fun playing it. The deck is rather straightforward to play yet extremely powerful. It’s especially nice if you don’t like draws, as this deck plays extremely fast in its wins or losses.
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