If you’re anything like me, you’re probably really tired of seeing a certain Water Pokémon “making a splash” at tournaments ever since it was released in Furious Fists. Seismitoad-EX, perhaps the most poorly-designed card in the XY block so far, has at times held the entire format in a chokehold, only being slowed down by an expected proliferation of Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX (VirGen) in response (which is no better because that deck is pretty much the most boring deck I’ve ever played).
So, to recap briefly: I offer apologies to anyone who likes to play Seismitoad-EX or Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX. It’s just … those two decks are so boring to play. How can you in good fai- okay, okay, I’ll shut up.
Seismitoad-EX is a real thorn in my side, so I thought I’d spend some time today covering every single thing that might help swing that matchup in our favor (and at this point, if you’re questioning the use of that pronoun “our,” it might be better for you to stop reading right now and go troll some people on PTCGO). First though, I’m going to cover just why Seismitoad-EX is so good. I’ll look at some of the more popular ways to play Toad, and what that means for us. I’ll examine what strategies we might employ to put ourselves in a winning position, and I’ll go over a list of nearly every card that shows promise.
Toward the end of this article, I’ll also provide you with three decks from Primal Clash that observe these various rules of combat. Each one is tailored to handle Seismitoad-EX while still being able to compete with the rest of the format. My hope is that you’ll have the tools and ideas needed to maintain most of your matchups at States while possibly switching out a few cards to give yourself a chance against Seismitoad-EX.
Remember to click on the link in the table of contents to go directly to that part of the article.
The Many Faces of Toad
I cannot remember where I’ve heard it, but there’s a saying that in order to know one’s enemy, one must become them. I’m intrigued by the nature in which players approach Seismitoad-EX — in one breath they criticize it to no end and attribute all the game’s lost potential to it; in the next, they’re announcing Quaking Punch, literally the only attack they may use for the entirety of the game. A few too many players have become that which they despise.
There’s an argument for why players who “hate” Seismitoad-EX also play it: they openly recognize just how dang good the card is. From a competitive standpoint, I can’t blame them at all. I complained like mad about Junk Arm when it was legal, but then played four of them in every deck I had built. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry anymore about losing games because players can use Crushing Hammer up to seven or eight times. (Oh, right … Lysandre’s Trump Card.)
So, if we’re being fair to ourselves, we have to play with fire a little to know how to thwart it. Otherwise, we may end up underestimating just how powerful Seismitoad-EX and its partners can be. Remember, this is a deck that can actually take on an auto-loss (Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX) and beat it with ease given the right circumstances (heads on Crushing Hammer, playing Head Ringer at the right time, etc.).
Below, I will outline the various ways in which Seismitoad-EX has been utilized recently. I’ll specify the strategy at work and describe why conventional approaches often flounder in the face of that strategy. Note that this list is in no particular order — the Seismitoad-EX “metagame” seems to evolve from week to week, with Garbodor LTR being a popular partner one week and Crawdaunt PRC being the better option the next. Also, I recently talked about Seismitoad-EX, so in an effort to not repeat myself, I will be discussing the most prevalent Seismitoad-EX builds as of late.
Along with Seismitoad-EX/Jynx FFI, this is probably the newest Seismitoad-EX variant out there. I got a chance to see this deck in action over the weekend at North Carolina States, and it’s absolutely terrifying.
Seismitoad-EX was great at denying Energy to begin with, and Crawdaunt pushes the deck that one more notch to make it incontrovertibly dangerous. With something like a fourth of the deck being used to discard Energy from the opponent’s Pokémon, playing against this deck feels like playing against Darkrai-EX decks in this past when Sableye DEX could cycle Crushing Hammers — that is, if you weren’t using Pokémon that could accelerate Energy you were generally bound to lose.
You will more than likely see this variant at the remainder of States, so be on the lookout for it.
This version of Toad essentially works at countering the mirror match. With multiple Jynx on the field, Seismitoad-EX can heal off damage done by competing Toads, leading to victory. It’s not an overly complex deck, just one of many measures Seismitoad-EX players are making for the metagame. Brandon Smiley highlighted this deck in his article “Toad Country.”
With an interesting arsenal of components working tirelessly behind the scenes, this version of Seismitoad-EX offers the advantage of healing along with some Sleepytime Tea: Aromatisse ensures that Max Potion sees play, Malamar-EX can disable many threats by putting them to sleep, and all the while Seismitoad-EX is keeping Item cards at bay.
The reason this version has been so effective in the past is that it plays well against other Seismitoad-EX decks and can reverse progress made by decks that aim for a knockout in multiple hits. Recently, it has seen a bit of a decline because — at least from what I’ve seen — many Seismitoad-EX decks are teching in Super Scoop Up, which acts as a “pseudo” Max Potion.
The next thing we must think about if we want to beat Seismitoad-EX is the bulk of strategies that exist for giving any Seismitoad-EX player a headache, and whether or not those strategies are actually effective. Keep in mind that some strategies may look good on paper but function horribly in-game. Remember the Darkrai-EX/Sableye DEX/Crushing Hammer deck I mentioned earlier? At the time, many players thought Terrakion NVI could crush Darkrai-EX, but cycling Crushing Hammer cards over and over again kept a Terrakion NVI player from ever attacking. What was thought of by many as an auto-win was the complete opposite.
So then, how should we approach the Seismitoad-EX matchup? What are our options for making some noticeable cracks in that deck’s overall strategy? Also, how have Toad players responded? Let’s look:
By and far the reason anyone plays Leafeon PLF is because it lays down some heavy damage against Seismitoad-EX. Players have recently picked up Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX for the same reason. In short, hitting Seismitoad-EX with a Grass Pokémon is one of the more reliable (and obvious) ways to pull ahead.
Unfortunately, though, there can be some issues with this approach. I’ll talk about what Seismitoad-EX players are doing in response to the Grass threat below, but understand this fairly simple fact: Good Grass Pokémon are few and far between. If Seismitoad-EX had a number of other Weaknesses than Grass it would take a hit (think if it were Weak to Mewtwo-EX or Landorus-EX, for instance).
So what are Seismitoad-EX players doing? Well, even though Weakness Policy is a thing, I haven’t seen many Seismitoad-EX decks running it. I think this is again for the consideration that there just aren’t heavy-hitting Grass Pokémon that make much of a difference. Yes, I’m aware that Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX is making a comeback, but it was very much on the decline until Seismitoad-EX started sweeping States Championships. Plus, a single Weakness Policy leaves you open to Genesect-EX’s Ability so long as you have a Seismitoad-EX on the Bench.
This might open the door for a Grass Pokémon to actually make a difference, seeing that many players still haven’t adopted Weakness Policy as a staple.
This strategy is basically what many decks tried to do about a year ago: land 1HKOs. Who cares about hitting for Weakness if you’re going to swing for 180 damage anyway? Oddly enough, our format has moved almost entirely away from a “1HKO format” into one of many different strategies. You still see this in decks like Night March and Flareon PLF decks, but the need to hit for 180+ every turn has faded severely this season. It is, however, a perfectly viable strategy for dealing with Seismitoad-EX. It bypasses the trouble that cards like Max Potion and Super Scoop Up present, and it totally flips the game on its head, forcing the Seismitoad-EX player to be on the defensive.
The situations in which I see this happen most often can be summed up in just a few cards: Flareon PLF, Donphan PLS (mid to late game), Primal Groudon-EX, and sometimes Yveltal-EX. Oh, and Night March Pokémon — can’t forget those! These are cards that can reach the right numbers to clear an undamaged Seismitoad-EX off the field.
The natural response for both Flareon PLF and Night March decks is fairly simple — Lysandre’s Trump Card — so we’ll look at the other cards instead. Yveltal-EX can be effective against Seismitoad-EX, but just like against Virizion-EX, Seismitoad-EX presents many, many hurdles. We can talk all day about how Evil Ball does 100 damage — enough for a 2HKO — but a Seismitoad-EX player will do their best to keep that attack from ever happening. With things like Crushing Hammer, Head Ringer, Hypnotoxic Laser, Crawdaunt PRC, and so on, it’s easy to see how even the simplest of attacks can be difficult to pull off.
Donphan decks can be a toss-up in many cases as well, and with most of these decks adopting a line of Primal Groudon-EX, perhaps we should talk about that card instead. Primal Groudon-EX, out of all these cards, seems to have the most promise, precisely because of its invulnerability to so many of Seismitoad-EX’s tricks. For the most part, Seismitoad-EX players may try to cut you off before you mega evolve to Primal Groudon-EX, at which point they’ll try to lay some damage on you. If they manage to do this, a 1-1 line may get in the way more than it helps.
With such a low output of damage, Seismitoad-EX can be susceptible to decks that heal. With Rough Seas being one of the best healing cards in the game right now, cards like Primal Kyogre-EX and M Manectric-EX can erase a lot of the damage done by Seismitoad-EX. Heck, Suicune PLB can heal and wall at the same time against Seismitoad-EX.
Of course, Rough Seas isn’t the only approach a person can take, though it’s perhaps the most direct. Jynx FFI, Cherrim PLS, Pokémon Center Lady, AZ, and others are out there, though they’re far from dependable.
Seismitoad-EX decks normally rely on Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym to pile on the damage. If Retreat Cost were no issue, this might not be such a problem, but with Poison that sticks even Rough Seas can lose its effectiveness (you may heal 30 damage, but by the time it’s your next turn you’ve taken on 20, and that’s if your opponent doesn’t play Virbank City Gym down). And if you thought you can wait out the four Hypnotoxic Laser, just remember that Lysandre’s Trump Card will bring those Poison- and Sleep-inducing nightmares right back into the fold.
I separate this strategic idea from the healing cards because they work off a separate premise. Instead of erasing damage done, they seek to prevent that damage altogether. There are some wonderful walls out there that I think can hold their own against Seismitoad-EX, though I’m not sure about how they may perform against everything else. Consider Excadrill PRC 97, a card that can stockpile Shield Energy on it and — with the benefit of Steel Shelter — keep from being Poisoned. Similarly, Scizor BCR still seems an effective measure against Seismitoad-EX, mostly because of Steel Shelter.
Of course, other walls are out there. Pyroar FLF, Suicune PLB, Aegislash-EX … these are the more traditional ones, and I think they’re incredibly valid, though many players don’t want to invest the deck space for them.
For the most part, Seismitoad-EX gets around walls with Hypnotoxic Laser. Of course, the whole “denying you resources because of a constant stream of Quaking Punch” helps out as well. In many cases, the disruption caused by Quaking Punch is such that an opponent can’t even get any semblance of a strategy going in the first place. If all else fails, Toad players can always adopt Silent Lab, though it’s definitely not a popular play at the moment.
Conditions (The Special Kind)
Illumise PRC recently got some time in the spotlight after being included in a States-winning Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX list. With two relatively weak attacks, one might question why Illumise was even used. As unimpressive as those attacks may seem, it’s exactly what was needed to either power up a huge threat or make Seismitoad-EX confused.
Special Conditions are a way to deal with Seismitoad-EX by keeping the opponent from using Quaking Punch. Even a single turn of Item cards can be a game-changer, and so keeping Seismitoad-EX Asleep or Confused or whatever can lead to a win. There are a few cards that can inflict these Conditions, with perhaps the best one out of the format at this time (that would be Accelgor DEX).
Once more, Super Scoop Up provides a good out when dealing with Special Conditions. Of course, this does require a coin flip, so there’s no guarantee it will work. Outside of this, some Seismitoad-EX decks play Switch, but that seems to be an inclusion based on preference more than anything.
These are just some of the ways players are combating Seismitoad-EX. It’s important to keep this stuff in mind, as I’ve seen players run “counters” that do very little to leverage the matchup. In a sense, if you’re running an ineffective counter, you’re probably doing more to harm your matchup than otherwise, so please make sure you put some testing in before you go with a “hypothetical.”
Everything We’ve Got
Given that this article is all about beating Seismitoad-EX, let’s look at some of the tools, techs, and whatnot that we have to work with. I won’t be discussing every card, but I will at least list for you the options that stand out to me in the card pool — cards that seem to have some small shot at knocking Seismitoad-EX off of its throne.
In order according to set, here are the cards I think may have a practical application against Seismitoad-EX:
Ludicolo PRC 37
Whiscash PRC 40
Medicham PRC 81
Excadrill PRC 97
With that exhaustive list out of the way, I’d like to cover a few of these cards and explain some strategies that you might have never heard of. I’ll also provide a couple of decklists along the way. I’m not saying they automatically beat Seismitoad-EX, but it will at least give you a starting point for an interesting concept.
All of these cards represent our “Tormenters” — Pokémon whose attacks keep a certain attack from being used. I’m not sold on this idea because Seismitoad-EX decks are more and more often running Super Scoop Up, which represents a true challenge if it’s played successfully. You should be able to attack at least twice with one of these Pokémon (excluding Cryogonal in some instances), meaning that if you’re just dying for a turn with Items, you might want to experiment with these Pokémon.
The reason I’m even talking about this card right now is because of Rough Seas. The idea is fairly simple: Get two or three Keldeo-EX in play, start attaching Energy so you may attack, and use Rough Seas and Keldeo-EX’s Ability to heal damage for as long as you need. At some point — provided you can keep Rough Seas in play — you’ll hit a damage-healing plateau where you cancel out all the damage you’re taking on entirely.
I recommend playing three Keldeo-EX and four Rough Seas to make this idea work as seamlessly as possible. This is an easy fix in any Primal Kyogre-EX deck. Keep in mind, though, that this seven-card combo can go into many decks, with Keldeo-EX being a pretty easy substitute for Switch. The Rough Seas is harder to fit into decks, but I might honestly put it into decks it might be a stranger in if it means I can win the Seismitoad-EX matchup.
Good ol’ Ludicolo just wants to heal. Both of these cards function in similar ways, finding great strength in both Rough Seas and Archie’s Ace in the Hole. I’m not quite a believer in this idea, since it requires a bunch of work to get it going, but just the thought of one of these cards with a steady stream of healing sounds worth trying. Maybe.
I actually used this card in the Night March deck I played at NC States over the weekend. I only faced Seismitoad-EX once that day, but in that game it turned out to be the crucial key to victory. Since Mew-EX can copy any attack, I used Rainbow Energy and Metal Energy to give my deck the option to use Righteous Edge from as early as Turn 1.
My idea here pivoted on the observation that many Seismitoad-EX players were reducing their Energy count to just four Double Colorless Energy to include more disruption. With Righteous Edge stripping Seismitoad-EX of its ability to attack, it would give Night March the precious turns it needed to start producing 1HKOs.
Of course, this card pairs comfortably with any Metal deck.
Similar to the “Tormenters” before, my aim with this card is to keep the opponent from using Quaking Punch. This time, however, we accomplish that by bringing up a Benched Pokémon and trapping it with Snorlax’s Ability. The benefit to this play is that it only requires one or two Snorlax and a slight increase in Lysandre — very low-impact for most decks. Moreover, being able to trap something with Snorlax can help out in other matchups.
The inclusion of Super Scoop Up into Seismitoad-EX lists is a bit disheartening for this concept, but hey, Snorlax has an awful lot of HP, so you have a little bit of time to try and trap something. Again, even a single turn of Items can pull a victory into view.
The “poor man’s Leafeon,” this card is actually quite effective against Seismitoad-EX. There are a few of things that even make this card better than Leafeon:
- Cacturne hits for a definite 60 damage, meaning that it can 1HKO Toad with a Silver Bangle (provided you get one on it quick enough).
- Payback can 1HKO a Seismitoad-EX or — with a Silver Bangle — 1HKO either Primal Kyogre-EX or Primal Groudon-EX.
- It has one less Retreat Cost than Leafeon PLF.
- Cacturne cannot be 1HKO’d by Seismitoad-EX.
When I used to play Leafeon PLF in my Night March deck, I kept bumping up against the issue of attacking into a Toad without a Silver Bangle and hitting for a disappointing 80 damage. Cacturne PLF gets around this in a sense, though its second attack is nothing special until the very end of the game.
Before, when I noted the tendency many Toad players have right now of running only four Double Colorless Energy, I was still thinking of this card. Froslass’ Ability keeps players from attaching Special Energy, and if that’s all they run — well, you can see where I’m going with this. The benefit to Froslass over another wall like Pyroar FLF is that it’s Water type (can take advantage of Rough Seas) and it has a lower Energy cost.
The issue with playing Froslass is that you’re forced to remove the opponent’s Special Energy they get on the field before you get Froslass Active. This probably means you’ll have to run Team Flare Grunt or Xerosic in heavier-than-desired counts. Still, it’s an idea that’s worth a try.
This card is intriguing to me because of its capability to heal and produce incredible amounts of damage. I can see this being a single inclusion in Primal Kyogre-EX lists, with the intention of healing and hitting for as long as you can. Let’s break this card down right quick, along with the damage it can produce:
- Kyurem-EX PLB takes a hit from Seismitoad-EX with all the damage modifiers in place. Kyurem is at 80 damage.
- Rough Seas is played and Kyurem healed. It’s as 50 damage, so Outrage does 80 damage.
- Virbank City Gym is played and Kyurem hit; it’s now at 130 damage.
- Rough Seas played again and Kyurem hits for 130 damage, gaining a KO.
- (If the opponent fails to play another Virbank City Gym) Kyurem is hit, putting it at 160 damage.
- With another Outrage, Kyurem can 1HKO a fresh Toad.
This is an incredibly simplified rundown of this card in action, but hopefully you get the point. With a double Energy cost, I don’t think Kyurem-EX PLB would be that hard to power up, especially if one were playing Double Colorless Energy with it.
Both of these cards are similar in their ability to return to their owner’s hand. You might have already pieced this together: Our aim is to cycle these cards over and over again, avoiding KOs. An ideal setup would have at least a 3-2 line going between what’s in play and what’s in hand.
Lopunny seems much worse than Mienshao at pulling this off, since it can’t really do any damage until it has three Energy on it. With both these cards having 90 HP, the opponent is left to bank on using N to shuffle those cards back into the deck. This can be done, but I can see it being a tedious endeavor (especially if the Mienshao deck runs Korrina to bring them right back).
When I first saw Rough Seas, my mind immediately went to M Manectric-EX. With the capability of cycling M Manectric-EX and healing with Rough Seas, I saw it as a huge counter to Seismitoad-EX. Of course, the popularity of Landorus-EX has tarnished this idea, but I still think this can be a huge play against Toad. Turbo Bolt gets Energy back on the field, the free Retreat Cost is incredibly nice, and Rough Seas helps to patch up Poison damage.
I recently saw this played with Primal Kyogre-EX, which makes perfect sense. Energy acceleration for Primal Kyogre-EX is nice, as is the spread damage from Manectric-EX’s first attack. The cool thing, of course, is that I can suggest nearly the same thing for something like Primal Groudon-EX — M Manectric-EX is such a splashable card that there are worlds of options here.
At first glance, this card seems pretty underwhelming — it’s basically a Grass version of Keldeo-EX without the Ability. However, I really feel we’re overlooking some nice things about Trevenant-EX. First of all, Trevenant-EX’s first attack can essentially produce the same result as the Snorlax PLS I mentioned earlier. Trapping a Slurpuff PHF can give a player time to attach Energy until Wood Blast is ready to go. Second, it pairs well with Virizion-EX, and though I’d rather be putting Energy on a Genesect-EX, Dark Forest is still a huge reason to play Trevenant-EX.
I absolutely love this card. With Dimension Valley, you have an incredibly disruptive first attack and the option of playing a deck without any Energy at all. I know that Poison without Virbank City Gym might seem diluted, but imagine the possibilities! No Energy!
In my mind, this is best paired with Crobat PHF and a heavy focus on recycling things into the deck with Lysandre’s Trump Card. I know that doesn’t speak much for the matchup against Seismitoad-EX, but here’s the thing: At some point, the Toad player will have to start flipping for their attacks, and when they flip tails you can use your 20 card hand of Items in whatever way you see fit.
And Then There Were Three
Here are three decks I’ve been working on that do a good job of utilizing the ideas above to handle Seismitoad-EX in addition to competing well with the rest of the format. I’ve listed them here in order of my experience with them — the Medicham deck, for instance, has been rigorously tested by me, while the Tentacruel deck probably needs a lot of work.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 37
Energy – 10
This deck is actually really good. Medicham might seem like a fragile card, but with a quick Landorus-EX you’re normally diverting the opponent’s attention away from Medicham, giving you time to set them up. With a Celebi-EX, a Silver Bangle, a Strong Energy, and a Fighting Stadium in play, Medicham can 1HKO many Pokémon-EX in the game. That might seem like a lot, but when you factor in the effectiveness of Teammates, you can see how easy it is to complete that puzzle.
Against Seismitoad-EX, you have a couple of tricks up your sleeve. Iris can easily take the place of Silver Bangle at the right moment, such that I’d nearly consider including two copies of that card. And even though Toad kills your ability to use Items, this deck generally sets up so quickly that you’ll remain competitive rather than just stalling out and losing. Tossing in the 1-1 Primal Groudon-EX might be enough to absolutely destroy any Toad decks.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
So, I started building this deck with the clever idea that an Excadrill using Dredge twice can get four Shield Energy on it in a single turn, thereby reducing damage from anything by 40. This is also good because of Steel Shelter, which cancels out any Poison damage. As soon as I realized all the Energy an Excadrill can gather, I thought it would be neat to push everything to a Primal Groudon-EX using Scramble Switch.
I’ve played a few games with this deck, and it’s got some weak spots against things like Yveltal-EX and Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF, but it’s still pretty good in many respects. Alternatively, I’ve thought about tanking as much as possible with Excadrill — Training Stadium, Hard Charm, Dedenne FFI for Yveltal-EX, etc.
Just a quick note — the reason I play so many Lysandre’s Trump Card is that I want to retrieve any Energy that get discarded from my Excadrill by things like Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, and so on. As long as I can Trump Card those Energy back into the deck, I can use Dredge to bring them right back into play.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 40
Energy – 0
Yes, you’re seeing that right — this deck doesn’t run any Energy at all. With Dimension Valley in play, every Pokémon in this deck can attack (except Jirachi-EX). I envision this as a seriously annoying deck that aims to force the opponent into flipping for every attack. Meanwhile, the Crobat line chips away at the Bench.
This deck I’ve had the least experience with, but I really like the idea of attacking for no Energy all the game through and really putting pressure on the opponent by making them flip through Confusion.
In this article we looked at what makes Seismitoad-EX so good, examined various strategies for dealing with Toad, entertained what those decks will do in response to those strategies, and discussed certain “under-the-radar” counters at length. We also looked at three different decks that kept all of this information in mind.
My hope isn’t that I have given you a deck that beats Seismitoad-EX. Rather, I hope I have offered a promising look at how you can alter your own deck to manage this difficult matchup. Even if something in this article buys you a single turn of Item cards, and that single turn leads to a victory, I will have considered this article a success.
Good luck to everyone at States this weekend and next. I won’t be attending anything this weekend, but next weekend I’ll be at South Carolina State Championship. If you make it out there, be sure to say hey. And as always, thanks for reading!
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