Charting a Course

The Mental Map to VA Regionals
pokeball choose decision
Many options, yet one decision.

There are currently eleven decks in the carrying case I use to hold my Pokémon TCG decks. On the bottom of each deck box is a strip of tape on which I’ve indicated the deck inside with a black Sharpie. “Metal (Bronzong/Stuff),” “Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff,” “Donphan,” and so on.

Eleven decks, and yet I need to arrive at one for the Regional Championship I plan on attending. It’s a tough process, and rather than provide you with lists for decks you probably already have built, I thought I would give you an inside look at how I decide what deck to play for a large tournament.

In this article I plan on breaking down the whole process while talking openly about what I think I may run for Regionals. In addition, I will look at some of the great cards from Primal Clash. While I’m not planning on attending Florida Regionals, I know many people who are, so perhaps this will give you something to work with if you plan on playing in that tournament (since it has been announced that players can use cards from Primal Clash).

Alright, let’s not waste any time! Remember to click on the link in the table of contents to go directly to that part of the article.

Table of Contents


Let’s spell things out a little with the “story” that represents what happened during City Championships. To me, there are three main parts to this story. See if you agree with them:

  1. When City Championships started, players quickly asserted Donphan PLS as the best card in the game. As a result, decks based around this card placed very well while everything else struggled to keep up the pace. I should note this was mainly a result of poor deck construction. Most decks early on during CCs failed to run 3-4 VS Seeker in addition to 2-3 Lysandre (that or they had no plan for getting around Sigilyph LTR or Suicune PLB).
  2. Counter measures were taken to ensure better matchups against Donphan PLS decks. This mostly included the aforementioned change in VS Seeker/Lysandre counts, but a few decks came out of this process as well (Yveltal-EX/Hard Charm, Crobat PHF decks, and so on). As a result, Yveltal-EX regained its significance in the game and M Manectric-EX found its way into more and more competitive decks.
  3. With Donphan PLS decks grinding to a halt and Yveltal-EX taking over as the best card in the game, the metagame opened up tremendously. Many players put their focus into decks that didn’t rely much on Pokémon-EX at all. Night March, Flareon PLF, Crobat PHF/Wobbuffet PHF … these decks seemed to permeate much of the game after the second week of CCs. As a result, CCs ended with a healthy mix of decks performing well.

Of course, an “honorable mention” exists for Seismitoad-EX (if that’s what I want to call it). It existed from the very start as a strong archetype and maintained that position throughout CCs. I feel it’s largely a “side story” to what occurred during CCs because it didn’t fade in and out of popularity — it was just there. Always there. Amidst metagame shifts and new tech ideas, Seismitoad-EX was consistently good. Players found new ways to make “Quaking Punch” that much more annoying, but it’s not like everyone is going out of their way to deal with Seismitoad-EX like they did with Donphan PLS. Why’s that?

Honestly, I believe it’s because of how Seismitoad-EX decks play out and what that means for opposing decks. Playing against Seismitoad-EX decks is like playing chess in an earthquake — some games swing your way because you drew what you needed, while others are hopeless because you didn’t. Without the use of Items (especially things like VS Seeker and Ultra Ball), you can only hope you draw what you need to put up a fight. In other words, teching for Seismitoad-EX decks is extremely hard to do since Item lock can be so crippling.


Okay, so with all this elaborated upon, what can we expect for Regionals? Here are my predictions for what will show up at Regionals as well as my reasoning:

Yveltal-EX/M Manectric-EX

Y-Bird returned in a big way.

This deck emerged as a counter to Donphan PLS decks, primarily because of the threat an Yveltal-EX with a Hard Charm poses to Fighting Pokémon. What’s notable here, though, is that Yveltal-EX remained strong even after players backed away from Donphan PLS. Think about what normally happens when a counter deck hits the scene: players back away from the deck being countered, the counter deck loses its effectiveness which causes players to back away from that deck, then the deck originally countered becomes strong again. This is exactly the relationship that existed between Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX decks and Pyroar FLF.

The difference here is that Yveltal-EX/M Manectric-EX happens to be a strong deck in and of itself. So while players countered Donphan PLS, they also had great matchups against most everything else. This isn’t surprising — Yveltal-EX is a great card and the deck has its weaknesses patched up wonderfully.

Donphan PLS

I’ve already heard people talk about this deck, and yes, it doesn’t make strategic sense nor will it perform well against Yveltal-EX. The hope any Donphan PLS player has is that everyone has forgotten about the deck. Ironically, many have, but it doesn’t matter when Yveltal-EX remains such a competitive force anyway.

The one holdout for Donphan players has to do with deck construction and a small change in the metagame. Donphan decks have a tremendous amount of techability depending on the circumstance, and though I think the Yveltal-EX/Hard Charm/heavy Lysandre hurdle is a bit too daunting, it won’t stop people from trying to secure that matchup. As far as the metagame, players have been backing away from Enhanced Hammer steadily, giving Donphan PLS an advantage. This isn’t my choice for Regionals by far, but I really think it will be for a lot of players.


As I said before, Seismitoad-EX is here to stay and just doesn’t have many bad matchups. People will play this card, and while I think there’s only so much a person can do to prepare themselves for Seismitoad-EX, there are a few options. Most decks have already explored these options; they’re nothing new: playing Leafeon PLF when you can or putting a heavy focus on M Manectric-EX. In any case, you won’t be able to win every matchup against Seismitoad-EX, but so long as you’re not trying to get a Stage 2 deck to work (excluding Crobat PHF here), you’ll at least stand a chance.

“Cheap Decks”

There are a lot of decks that fit into this category, and they aim for doing incredible amounts of damage (Night March, Flareon PLF) or spreading damage tactfully over the course of the game (Crobat PHF). These decks are underrated in many cases because they don’t rely as heavily on Pokémon-EX and feel a little “gimmicky.” Don’t be mistaken, though, because these decks can really pack a punch and have performed well throughout City Championships.

I know this seems like an incredibly simplified version of what may go on at Regionals, but that’s actually the point. You cannot account for everything, and your best bet when going into a tournament this big is to focus on consistency and make sure you have your bases covered. Also, I know there are multiple versions of Seismitoad-EX decks, but to keep things simple I’m going to lump them all into a single category.


At this point, I’m going to guess that you have roughly two to four options for Regionals. I currently have four, and so my aim is to get as close as possible to making a decision for Regionals so I can go ahead and playtest like crazy. Since we’ve got a rough idea of what we can expect at Regionals, we can compare that list to what our options are. Bear in mind that your list of options is more than likely different than mine, but you can still follow this whole process through to arrive at an informed decision.

For this exercise, I have four different decks that I’m trying to make work: Tool Drop, Night March, Donphan PLS, and a special rogue deck. Let’s start with a preliminary table showing expected results without any specific teching. For example, my Tool Drop deck is a standard one that doesn’t really have an answer for Seismitoad-EX; my Night March deck has been through a few tournaments, so it’s more metagame-worthy than everything else; and my Donphan PLS deck looks the same way it did at the beginning of CCs.

With this in mind, I came up with the following table:

erik graph 1

Remember, this table offers a very rough representation of how I think these decks will perform. I’m not looking at matchup percentages specifically, but rather as generally as possible. This is why you see only three different outcomes for each matchup: W (win), L (lose), or 50/50. The question mark simply means that I’m not sure about the matchup.

The purpose for this is simple. Let’s take Donphan PLS as an example. Looking at the table, Donphan PLS decks are projected to have the hardest time at Regionals. This is mostly a backlash from Donphan PLS’s success early in City Championships. Knowing this, I have three options: 1. I change the decklist to give myself a better chance at Regionals, 2. I run the deck as it stands and take a risk, or 3. I ditch the deck altogether. As I mentioned earlier, I’m planning on dumping Donphan PLS.

If we look at another option — Tool Drop — I can see that there’s some work to be done. If I can swing the Seismitoad-EX matchup a little more in my favor without sacrificing my other matchups, I’ll have a deck I can seriously consider for Regionals. The “50/50s” here are actually close to being question marks, but I’m doing a little “theory’moning” at the moment. What I’m left with is a vague idea of how these decks may perform based on what I may expect.


So, I took the four decks I am considering for Regionals and tested them against everything else to see if my numbers held up. At this point, I’ll be more flexible in how I report matchups — a 50/50 might become a 25/75, for instance. While I’m still not looking at recording things as precisely as possible, I’ll at least have a clear idea on what I might play for Regionals.

After testing each of these decks, this is what I came up with:

erik graph 2

Here are some notes I wrote down for each of the decks I tested:

Tool Drop

As I expected, this deck suffers dramatically from Seismitoad-EX. It also has issues against decks also trying to win the Prize race by using non-EX attackers (namely, Night March and Flareon PLF decks). To balance out the Seismitoad-EX matchup, I tried using Tropius PLB and Head Ringers, but it was an absolute bust. I then tried a high count of Sparkling Robe and a single Sigilyph LTR with the hope that I can get those on the field before my opponent can do anything about. As legitimate as that sounds, it hardly ever happened.

Going further, I couldn’t tackle any of the different Seismitoad-EX variants — Garbodor LTR, Slurpuff PHF, Aromatisse XY — they all made winning incredibly difficult. I absolutely have to chalk this one up as an auto-loss.

The Donphan PLS and Yveltal-EX matchups turned out positive, mostly because of my ability to 1HKO threats. Hard Charm did wonders against Donphan PLS, especially when I could hide behind a Sigilyph PLB with Pokémon Tools at nearly any point during the game. Matchups against the “cheap decks” turned out to be a little more difficult.

In the end, I don’t think I’ll run this for Regionals, since it just has too many vulnerabilities and can’t do a thing against Seismitoad-EX.

Night March

Left … right … left, right, left!

I’ve talked about this deck a lot in my past couple of articles, mostly because it’s my go-to deck for maintaining decent matchups across the board. As you can see, the table mostly represents this. Crobat PHF and Landorus-EX can be a nuisance since it has the ability to take Prize cards with little difficulty (my low HP on nearly everything doesn’t help).

If there’s even the chance that players back away from Seismitoad-EX a little, I stand to gain a lot with this deck. Crobat PHF can still be an issue, so perhaps there’s something I can do about that card, but it’s still a fringe option that I don’t think many people will take. Even if they do, they might not know how to approach the matchup, so I could be safe in that regard.

Another thing I should note is that my version of Night March runs 3 Enhanced Hammer and mostly secures me the matchups against the mirror match and Flareon PLF decks. For the most part, I don’t attack until late in the game, after I’ve successfully gotten rid of my opponent’s Double Colorless Energy. At some point I’m able to make a comeback while my opponent has no Energy to attack with. If they start attaching single Energy, I’ll try and drag that Pokémon out with a Lysandre and KO it. While my opponent normally takes 3-4 Prize cards at first, there’s very little they can do after that.


After a few changes to my Donphan PLS list, I managed to pull the Yveltal-EX matchup up to a 50/50 (I got a Dedenne FFI and two Startling Megaphones in there). Unfortunately though, testing shows that Donphan PLS has the most variance in terms of matchups. The outright loss against Night March is because my Night March list handles Donphan PLS so well, so perhaps this would be different at the tournament. Still, I’m not pleased with my testing.

The root of the problem here is that most decks have upped the Lysandre count and incorporated 3-4 VS Seeker in their lists. That’s a change that nobody seems to be backing down from, making Robo Substitute a moot point and threatening Donphan PLS at every step in the game.

Pyroar FLF/Suicune PLB

I came up with this deck shortly after realizing that a Pyroar FLF with a Silver Mirror attached to it auto-wins most Night March decks. With the addition of Suicune PLB, many decks have a hard time handling the match since I’m expected to eventually have a Pokémon Active that can’t be touched at all. Alternatively, this deck can be used with Ninetales BW66, a card that can pick off Pokémon that could damage Pyroar FLF.

There are a few issues with this deck, and this came out clearly in playtesting. I’m not sure if they can be overcome. First, many decks are playing cards that can handle Safeguard Pokémon like Suicune PLB or Sigilyph LTR. Yveltal-EX decks run Yveltal XY, sometime in heavy counts, while Seismitoad-EX decks can win easily if they include Garbodor LTR in their list. Second, the deck is really clunky. While that’s okay against decks that can’t even touch, it spells disaster against any Donphan PLS deck (yes, even with Suicune PLB it’s a tough matchup). There’s a good chance that theme decks can win against this thing, and the thought of losing to some dude’s Raichu XY/Donphan PLS/Yanmega PHF/Serperior LTR deck just doesn’t sound fun.

The Yveltal-EX deck I tested against ran three Yveltal XY, and though that might seem like much, I have to be prepared for something like that. Unfortunately, Yveltal-EX/M Manectric-EX just seemed one step ahead every time. Yveltal XY slammed my Suicune PLB until I got a Pyroar FLF Active, but then M Manectric-EX landed 1HKOs on that Pokémon. Dropping the Yveltal XY count to 2 made the matchup bearable, but again, I’m planning for players to run 3 or 4 copies of that card.


If Regionals took place tomorrow, I would play Night March without a doubt. You probably have a few different options, so here are some last thoughts for making a decision on what to play for Regionals:

1. Consistency is key.

I want to clarify that consistency here means consistency in playtesting. If your deck is clunky (like my Pyroar FLF/Suicune PLB deck), but it wins its matchups, who cares? We’re facing a format in which some really odd combos can do incredible things, and because of that you might not have everything set up in a couple of turns. While this mostly applies to things like Pyroar FLF, Crobat PHF, and other fringe cards, it’s just good to keep in mind.

At one point I was testing an Aurorus FFI/Suicune PLB deck, and though it had a really hard time setting up (Fossil Pokémon, am I right?), it performed fairly well once it got there. I had to dismiss the notion that my deck was supposed to set up in two or three turns and instead focus on the end result. Clunky as heck, but it had some positive matchups. And of course, please don’t recognize this as an argument against deck consistency. By now we all already know the importance of that (everyone chant with me now — four Juniper, four N, 2 Colress, 2 Lysandre, three or four VS Seeker).

2. The deck you test against the most might be your best choice.

When I placed 2nd in the 2010 US National Championship, I tested ruthlessly against Luxray GL LV.X/Garchomp C LV.X in an attempt to figure out how to beat it. In the end, that’s the deck I played. The reason this might be your best choice is because you have the most experience against it and learn exactly what it takes to break it down. This secures your mirror matches while also giving you the tools you need to play it well.

I don’t know about you, but I always designate a deck as a “standard” to be beaten — that is, if I can reliably beat this deck, I know I have a competition-worthy idea. My standard at this point is Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR. Every deck idea I have has to pass the test of beating Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR. If it doesn’t, I normally ditch the idea and start messing with something else. Though I’m not a fan of Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR, I know I would play it very well if I were forced to use it in a tournament.

3. Don’t underestimate what your instincts are telling you.

We can analyze, plan, and strategize all we want, but if the “best option” you identify turns out to be a deck you don’t care about at all, there’s a good chance you won’t do that well with it. You might approach the tournament with less vigor than had you played that other deck (you know the one). And if you lose a game or two, it might be enough to do you in because you didn’t really care to play your “best option” in the first place.

I know this makes it sound like human beings are incredibly emotional, but it’s the truth. When you have a deck you want to play, you’ll be sharper, more focused, and more resilient if you take a loss or two. It’s not something that starts when you sit down to play, it’s something that originates before the tournament even takes place. Again, I’m not telling you to play a bad deck (unless, you know, that deck can actually compete), I’m just saying you shouldn’t disregard your gut, or heart, or whatever.


I have heard differing opinions on how good this set is, which I don’t really understand. To me, this set holds a lot of promise in a variety of ways. From Mega (or Primal) Evolutions that are all competitive material to game-changing Stadium cards to the new “Ancient Trait” mechanic, this sets seems destined to make an impact.


rough seas pcl art
Helps and hurts Seismitoad.

I’m going to take a look at the cards that are getting the most attention, discuss some combos you might not have thought about, and try to predict what effect these cards might have on the game in general. Let’s get started with the Stadium cards:

Rough Seas

Initially, players discussed how this card made Seismitoad-EX unbearably strong, but I actually think it has the potential to take Seismitoad-EX down once and for all, and it’s all because of how Rough Seas heals Lightning Pokémon as well. With a M Manectric-EX and a Manectric-EX in play, you should have an easy road to victory (provided you run Rough Seas and can keep Energy in play). Simply attack, heal, retreat, attack, heal, retreat, and so on until you come out on top. If a Seismitoad-EX hits for 80 (Muscle Band + Virbank City Gym/Hypnotoxic Laser), you can play a Rough Seas, heal down to 50, retreat and swing with another Pokémon.

So long as you can avoid Sleep and keep Rough Seas in play, you should be fine. The opponent will get to heal as well, but with your damage output at a huge advantage, you still maintain 2HKOs while your opponent is never able to Knock Out your Pokémon. To me, the only reason this really works is because the low number of cards needed to pull this off. With a reasonably thick line of M Manectric-EX (3-2 or 4-3) and a healthy count of Rough Seas, you should be able to get what you need in play within a couple of turns, enough time to mount the best defense against Seismitoad-EX I’ve seen thus far.

Scorched Earth

I know many players still have a bad taste in their mouth after testing Fiery Torch. I too thought Fiery Torch would provide some wicked new draw engine that would show up in every Fire deck. While this is much the same, it’s just different enough that I think it will see a lot of play. 

First of all, Scorched Earth can be put into play and left there. Fiery Torch required a player to have both a R Energy and the Item card itself in hand at the same time. With this minute difference, Scorched Earth finds itself useful in a lot more situations.

Second, the fact that Scorched Earth is a Stadium card means a player can get multiple uses out of it (Fiery Torch, on the other hand, gets used once and gets discarded). Yes, you might have opponents replace your Stadium, but you’ll eventually get a Scorched Earth to stick at probably just the right time. Last, Scorched Earth works with both Fire and F Energy, making it even more versatile.

While I doubt Fighting decks will bother with Scorched Earth (Fighting Stadium exists after all), I do believe Fire decks will adopt this Stadium card as a staple. With Blacksmith being such a powerful card in Fire decks, there still exists the need for a reliable draw engine (not Roller Skates). I think Scorched Earth gives Fire decks this very powerful boost.

Shrine of Memories

So, I really like the idea behind this card. It seems a most effective answer to the occasional attempt to salvage the attacks of previous Evolutions. At some point we had Meteor Falls (which didn’t work with Pokémon-ex), then came Memory Berry (which occupied the Pokémon Tool spot and got discarded after an attack), then a Memory Berry reprint (during a time when Basic Pokémon ruled most of the game), and finally Celebi-EX (a painfully huge liability). Shrine of Memories feels like the first version of this tired mechanic that I would play.

In all honesty, however, this card needs something else going for it. We just recently got a peek of the “Δ Evolution” Ancient Trait, which allows a player to instantly evolve certain Pokémon. Perhaps this will be a natural way for Shrine of Memories to see some play.

Silent Lab

Could it be? Disruption in the form of a Stadium card? Part of what made the “ex series days” so wonderful was the manner in which Stadium cards could turn a game around. Battle Frontier, Cursed Stone, Team Aqua’s Hideout, Desert Ruins, Crystal Beach, Holon Legacy … these all had huge roles in the game at one point, and it’s because they could really screw with an opponent.

Of course, Silent Lab isn’t as disruptive as it many of the cards before it, but it still takes an impressive toll on something like Darkrai-EX, Jirachi-EX, Mew-EX, and Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX decks. At the same time, it has the ability to silence cards like Sigilyph LTR and Suicune PLB, a somewhat ironic truth.

Perhaps the best use of this card, however, is how well it combos with Hawlucha FFI. Since Silent Lab cuts off Hawlucha FFI’s Ability, Weakness kicks back in, making this card lethal against M Manectric-EX. With a Silver Bangle and a Strong Energy (and Silent Lab in play), Hawlucha FFI does 110 damage. Double that for M Manectric-EX’s Weakness and you have a 1HKO.

Items and Supporters

repeat ball art
This might be my favorite card from this set.

Within the past few sets, we’ve had some Stadium cards printed that turned out to be real duds (Mountain Ring, Magnetic Storm, Training Center), but this set seems to rectify all of that. With that in mind, let’s look at the rest of the Trainer cards and see if the set does a good job elsewhere:

Acro Bike

First came Bicycle, then came Roller Skates, and now Acro Bike. Just like the previous two Items, I feel Acro Bike will show up every now and then in decks, but it won’t necessarily be a staple. Fire decks can make use of them alongside Scorched Earth to create a draw engine that makes Blacksmith a bit easier to play. And as many pointed out, Acro Bike and the Swampert from this set seem made for each other.

In truth though, cards like these continue to pale in comparison to the power that comes in the form of 4 Professor Sycamore and 3-4 VS Seeker. Seeing as one has 46 cards to draw through after setting up, playing Sycamore six times gets you there with little trouble. Drawing a couple of cards (and having to discard one) seems severely underpowered when you consider this.

Dive Ball

This new addition to the line of Poké Balls seems an immediate staple in Water decks, but I think it’s a bit more complex than that. Many decks that feature Water Pokémon use other types as well, making Dive Ball useless in setting up something like Garbodor LTR, Slurpuff PHF, Aromatisse XY, and so on. When I look at something like Primal Kyogre-EX, however, I can’t help but think that at least one or two inclusions of Dive Ball would help (assuming Primal Kyogre-EX is being paired up with Pokémon of different types).

Fresh Water Set

On the surface, this card seems really weak. With the exception of Landorus-EX and Crobat PHF, spread damage isn’t a go-to strategy like it once was. The thing is, both of those cards have gained a lot of ground within recent weeks, and even a single Fresh Water Set can really throw the opponent off. If spread damage continues to gain in popularity, we might see this card taking up a couple of slots in decklists. I’m not counting on it anytime soon though, especially with the release of Rough Seas.

Repeat Ball

This might be my favorite card from this set. With Standard having an unusual restriction in cards that let you search for Pokémon — we really only have Ultra Ball, after all — Repeat Ball seems destined to restore some balance here. Decks like Tool Drop, Weavile PLF/Lopunny FLF, Pyroar FLF, and a few others have been hurting for a card like this.

I can see this card working well in conjunction with Ultra Ball. Of course, if you’re running some strange “quad” deck 4 Repeat Ball and maybe 1 or 2 Ultra Ball will do the trick, but most decks that utilize Repeat Ball will go with a 4 Ultra Ball/3 Repeat Ball split — get your Pokémon in play as soon as you can and search out extra copies of those cards throughout the game.

Weakness Policy

What a strange card. Years ago, we had Protective Orb released in Unseen Forces, and absolutely nobody played it. That card was essentially the same thing as Weakness Policy, though it had some restrictions in terms of what Pokémon it could be played on. Weakness Policy can go onto anything, including a hefty Pokémon-EX, but is it that much of a game-changer?

In truth, I believe it can be. A single copy in a Seismitoad-EX deck can provide massive insurance against something like Leafeon PLF or Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX. And if a card like Primal Groudon-EX ever rises to popularity, an attached Weakness Policy will never go away because of Ω Barrier. Even Gengar-EX can use it to balance out the Yveltal-EX matchup. While I’m not completely convinced just yet, I actually think Weakness Policy might be one of those cards that fly underneath the radar until a big event where people recognize how useful it can be.

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

These cards are incredibly situational, and they remain situational even in light of the current format. The moment a card like Banette PL comes out, however, is the moment these cards create ten new decks. There’s not a lot I can say about these cards right now because I don’t see any reliable way to make them work. What Pokémon would I “resurrect” with these two Supporters? Swampert PRC 36, Machamp FFI, Blastoise PLB, and maybe our two new Primal EXs.

Professor Birch’s Observations

I’m really split on this card, and I wish Pokémon Card Laboratories would stop creating cards like this that rely so much on coin flips. It’s the reason I never even touched Roller Skates, and yet that card managed to find a good deal of play. Put simply, I would play this card over Shauna, but I doubt I would play it over N. I avoid Shauna if I can help it, so I’m just not sure where that leaves me. I’ll get back to you on this one (and start practicing my coin flips).


In the heavy-draw format we have right now, one would think Teammates gets ignored in favor of Professor Sycamore and 3-4 VS Seeker. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, as Teammates still has the powerful ability of bringing out any two cards from the deck. I see this card being played in decks that run few Pokémon-EX, and I see it being run in counts of 2 or 3. In my mind, Teammates gains a lot from the existence of VS Seeker, since it can be tossed away and retrieved with VS Seeker when the time is right. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even bother testing this card out.

As with cards like Blacksmith and (maybe) the Maxie/Archie Supporters, I see a lot of synergy between Teammates and Battle Compressor. Rather than hope to run into Teammates at the right time, I would rather ditch them as soon as I can and rely on a VS Seeker to do the job for me.


medicham pcl 81 art 2
Quite possibly a huge sleeper.

I’ve talked at length about all the Trainers this set has to offer, and while I won’t do the same for the Pokémon in this set, I do want to highlight a few cards that I’m most impressed with:

Sceptile PRC 8, Sceptile PRC 9

For whatever reason, the card creators decided to make both Sceptile in this set really good. One has Energy acceleration without any downside (it actually heals your Pokémon instead) while the other one has Ω Barrier and a powerful second attack. While I cringe at most Stage 2 Pokémon for being Stage 2 Pokémon, the fact that Sceptile is Grass type makes it strong against Seismitoad-EX.

Obvious Combos: Trevenant-EX, Virizion-EX, Genesect-EX
Not-So-Obvious Combos: Floette FLF 64, Dragonite-EX

Swampert PRC 36

Cards like this seem to be a rarity these days. Everything about this card screams “playable,” and barring Seismitoad-EX, I certainly think this card is competition-worthy. It has Energy acceleration built into it with its Ancient Trait, it has setup power through its Ability, and its attack can do incredible amounts of damage.

I think there are two things that are hurting this card right now: first, it’s a Stage 1 — that’s pretty self-explanatory; second, the attack cost is all kinds of troublesome. At three Colorless, this card can get powered up in a single turn by attaching a W Energy and a Double Colorless Energy. While this seems attractive, the base damage for that clocks it at 70, which is terribly subpar. While you may manage to get enough W Energy on Swampert to hit really hard, you have to keep streaming this card, and since it’s a Stage 2 it won’t be an easy feat.

Obvious Combos: Slurpuff PHF, Acro Bike
Not-So-Obvious Combos: Leafeon PLF, Archie’s Ace in the Hole

Tentacruel PRC

Given that nearly every Psychic Pokémon I’ve looked at since Dimension Valley was released is automatically twice as good, this card actually impresses me. For no Energy at all you can Confuse and Poison the opponent’s Active Pokémon. That might not seem like much, but throw in a bunch of Crobat PHFs and you’re starting to string together an impressive strategy. Seeing that you could run a deck like this without any Energy, you have a tremendous amount of space for disruption cards. Not crazy of course about my matchup against M Manectric-EX, but maybe I’ll tech in the Silent Lab/Hawlucha FFI combo I mentioned earlier and catch my opponents off guard!

Obvious Combos: Dimension Valley, Crobat PHF
Not-So-Obvious Combos: Hawlucha FFI, Jellicent BCR, Dragalge FLF

Medicham PRC 81

This card is incredible, and I don’t think anyone even realizes it. I’ve always hated Celebi-EX, but its synergy here with Medicham is undeniable. With a Fighting Stadium in play, a single Strong Energy attached to Medicham, and a Silver Bangle, you can copy Meditite PRC’s attack twice (it has a base damage of 20). That’s 20 (attack) + 20 (Stadium) + 20 (Strong Energy) + 30 (Silver Bangle) for a total of 90 damage; multiply that by two for the Ancient Trait and you get 180 damage, enough to 1HKO many EX cards.

Obvious Combos: Stuff that boosts Fighting Pokémon

Not-So-Obvious Combos: Celebi-EX

Crawdaunt PRC

This card, without any other context, looks annoying and mediocre. The context, of course, is that there are many cards in the game right now that discard Energy. Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, Xerosic, Team Flare Grunt … with these other cards in the picture, Crawdaunt now becomes a true threat.

Obvious Combos: Energy denial Trainer cards
Not-So-Obvious Combos: Dragalge FLF/Dusknoir BCR/Hypnotoxic Laser


Preparing for Regionals can be a truly exhausting process, but with a bit of organization and planning we can arrive at a well-informed decision on what to play. Hopefully my process here gave you a start to deciding what you want to play for Regionals. Also, if you’re planning on attending Florida Regionals, maybe my quick list of observations will help spark an idea or two.

All in all, I’m excited about attending Regionals, and I’m excited about the game in general at this point! Primal Clash to me seems an impressive set that is taking us in a creative direction without breaking the game. When we look at sets that coincided with a reboot (HeartGold & SoulSilver, Platinum, etc.), I can’t say the card creators always had the best ideas in mind, but Primal Clash seems to build on a lot of what is really strong about the game right now.

Of course, if you have any questions or additional thoughts, message me or find in me in the Underground BBS. And if you found my article helpful, do give it a “like.” Thanks as always!

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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