Hey there SixPrizes! This is my first time writing an article for this site, so I think a quick introduction is called for. My name is Sorina Radu and I’m a relatively newer player from Seattle, with 2014-2015 being my third competitive season. I got started playing Pokémon while rummaging through some of the old cards that I found in the way back of my parents’ attic. After taking them to League in the hopes that someone was still interested in playing Pokémon, I quickly discovered the competitive scene … and it all went downhill from there! I now spend a lot of my time thinking about and playing Pokémon, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m employed (yay!) as a vendor for Microsoft and I enjoy Netflix and eating during my free time. Feel free to message me over Facebook or find me at a tournament if you want to talk!
To be completely honest, I’ve always considered writing about Pokémon strategy as an egotistic venture. Even now I don’t think of myself as a good enough player to be able to correctly advise others on how to play the game to the best degree. However, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that my purpose here isn’t really to tell others how to play better — but rather to bring ideas to the table in the hopes that those thoughts will foster discussion and generate even more ideas. I love to debate, so please feel free to take whatever you’ve gathered from this article and argue with me about it.
My intentions here are threefold. At the foundation I would like to introduce you all to my writing, my Pokémon history, and my thought processes when it comes to competitive play and deckbuilding. I also want to recap my States performances, as tournament reports are generally fun and somewhat useful. But ultimately I want to focus on Crobat PHF. Despite the card being somewhat popular during Cities, I’ve only recently discovered how good it is and how much fun playing a deck with it can be. I’ll walk through the two decks featuring Crobat that I played at States and discuss what makes the decks so strong. I’ve also included an analysis of my States performances and the matchups that I faced, which will hopefully give you an idea of what it’s like to play the deck.
A Fresh Start: Missouri States
Dear SixPrizes readers, here’s a very well-known fact about me: Outside of when I was swooning over Gothitelle EPO 47/Accelgor DEX at Nationals 2013, almost all of the decks that I’ve ever chosen to play have included or featured Darkrai-EX. The first competitive deck that I built was Hydreigon DRX 97. I remember the giddy excitement of figuring out that Dark was still good even after the Dark Patch rotation. And I’ve been almost exclusively piloting Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Darkrai-EX for the entirety of this season, with the deck responsible for approximately 80% of my Championship Points.
I say all of this with a feeling of glee and accomplishment, but the reality of the situation is that my infatuation with Darkrai-EX has led me astray. Many players advocate for playing a deck that you are familiar and comfortable with, and that’s a sentiment with which I generally tend to agree. Yet toward the middle of this season, my “preference” had spiraled into an aversion toward playing any other deck. Since I was so comfortable with the playstyle of Yveltal-EX, I was too scared to even attempt using other archetypes. I began using the deck as a crutch, and my unwillingness to play anything else at major tournaments simply meant a slew of mediocre performances. I would justify my deck preference because Yveltal-EX would sometimes align with the correct meta call, but in reality, I wasn’t really making a meta call. I was just playing the same deck with the hope of getting different results (and we all know what the definition of insanity is).
Maybe you’re thinking that I’m going to warn you against the dangers of only playing one deck, but the real moral of this story is that testing is really important. I spent the week before States at the home of Brit Pybas while he was on spring break. We tested almost every day, and I remember a particular set of matches where I was playing a very consistent Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX list against his Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF deck. Having tied (and almost won) against the Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF deck that won Portland Regionals in January, I had considered the matchup 50-50 at the very worst. And so my frustration only skyrocketed as each game quickly devolved into a slaughtering, ultimately resulting in an 0-5 record for Yveltal-EX.
The experience taught me to take a step back. I wasn’t frustrated at playing against Seismitoad-EX; I was angry and disillusioned that my beloved Yveltal-EX was failing me. Not only were the matches a wake-up call to play something different, testing new decks every day also led me to be a lot more comfortable with archetypes which were previously unfamiliar to me. After testing through several different choices, I eventually decided that Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF was the most fun that I’ve had in a while. The following is the list I played at Missouri States. Most of the credit for this list goes to Brit, though I did make a couple of changes myself.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 38
3 Head Ringer
Energy – 6
I’m a huge fan of Seismitoad-EX. Perhaps I truly have no compassion, or I just love seeing the annoyed looks on my opponents’ faces when I announce “Quaking Punch” for the thirtieth time in a game, but I believe the card is insanely strong. The only real “letdown” of Seismitoad-EX is the measly 30 damage output from Quaking Punch — but this is exactly why the inclusion of Crobat PHF is so strong. The Crobat version of a Seismitoad-EX build is the perfect balance of control and damage. Not only are you able to manipulate the board state to the point where your opponent is unable to carry out his or her strategy, but you’re also able to build up damage to quickly take 6 Prizes.
This is a simple two-pronged strategy, facilitated by the following key cards:
4 Hypnotoxic Laser & 2 Virbank City Gym
Laser and Virbank are ways to get more damage out on the field, but more importantly they’re there to complicate your opponent’s strategy. Your opponent will generally be pressured to take extensive measures in order to get out of Poison (and potentially Sleep), especially if they’re under Item lock. Virbank City Gym can also be used to bump your opponent’s key Stadiums. And never underestimate the advantage that comes with your opponent being unable to attack for even one turn because of Sleep!
This card is the ideal counter to probably one of your worse matchups — Seismitoad-EX. A timely Xerosic discarding the Double Colorless Energy off of your opponent’s Active can give you a turn of Items, which could potentially result in you taking the lead. The card is versatile enough to be used in other matchups as well, as you can discard Head Ringers attached to your own Seismitoads or discard other types of pesky Special Energy. The ability to use Jirachi-EX to search out this card is also key.
3 Super Scoop Up & 1 AZ
Though I like to use these cards on Crobat PHF more often than not, they comes in handy for healing and taking easy Prizes off of my board. There’s no better feeling than being able to scoop up and discard Jirachi-EX after needing to use Stellar Guidance for Professor Juniper.
3 Head Ringer
I’ve seen many Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF builds without Head Ringer, but I would argue that this card isn’t a matter of “personal preference.” There are many bleak matchups where using Head Ringer will give you a game-winning advantage. This is especially true when it comes to playing against other Seismitoad-EX decks. The extra turn of Items is often exactly what you need in order to push you ahead.
Perhaps the most important Supporter in your entire deck, Trump Card allows you to play in a truly aggressive fashion. I generally don’t worry too much about how many resources I’ve discarded, because using Trump Card at least once or twice in a game is to be expected.
4-3-3 Crobat PHF
This is the primary way that you’ll be adding more damage onto your opponent’s board. If you’re able to play all three Crobat PHF lines, then you’ll be doing a total of 150 extra damage — and that’s without using AZ or Super Scoop Up.
Though some may frown upon playing a card that requires a coin flip, the ability to recycle this card via Lysandre’s Trump Card has made it indispensable. Even one heads over the course of an entire match could be game changing.
Toward the end of the game your board will be set up enough that you don’t need to draw through any more of your deck — and that’s when you want to focus more on doing damage. At this point in the game AZ becomes crucial. Being able to reuse a Crobat line or two is key.
Considering how easy it is to stack up damage with Crobat PHF, sometimes an X Ball is all you need for a quick KO. The card is also extremely useful against beefy attackers and/or ones that require lots of Energy (Primal Groudon-EX, Yveltal-EX, other Mewtwo-EX) and could potentially 1-shot your Seismitoad-EX.
2 W Energy
I’ve seen builds of this deck playing up to four (!!) W Energy. The truth of the matter is, I’ve only used Grenade Hammer maybe once or twice over all of the games that I’ve ever played with this deck — including in testing! It’s nice to have the option, but considering that it takes several turns and some good fortune on your side to set up the attack, in reality it’s not going to happen often. Ultimately you want to save this attack until the end of the game, so I would suggest discarding the Water in favor of Double Colorless and relying on Lysandre’s Trump Card to set up your W Energy later on. The only real reason to increase the count of W Energy in this deck is if you foresee a heavy amount of Aegishlash-EX or Cobalion-EX in your metagame.
There are definitely ways to alter this build based on your metagame and what you may expect. For example, I added a second Xerosic for Washington States because I expected a lot more Seismitoad-EX. A 4-4-4 Crobat PHF line might be necessary if you decide to forgo Super Scoop Up. And as mentioned previously, a higher count of W Energy is good for decks against which your Double Colorless Energy are a liability.
Thankfully this exact build was close to perfect for what I encountered at Missouri States. I believe that Brit and I were the only two players who had decks focused primarily around Seismitoad-EX, which was a blessing. The deck ended up running smoothly and I was managed to end the day at 5-1 as the first seed going into top cut.
Round 1 vs. Rob Mack (Bronzong PHF)
The matchup against Bronzong can be very difficult if your opponent is able to attack early on with either Cobalion-EX or Dialga-EX. Cobalion-EX’s first attack, Righteous Edge, will discard your Active’s Double Colorless Energy. Dialga-EX’s Chrono Wind prevents your Active Seismitoad-EX from attacking the next turn. Since my version of Seismitoad-EX doesn’t have the draw power or switching effects that other Seismitoad-EX builds do, finding another DCE or switching from the Active Spot can be hard. Even losing one turn of Item lock can be disastrous in this matchup, as Metal can easily cycle through attackers once they have Bronzong PHF on the field and Metal in the discard. They’re also easily able to get out of Poison/Sleep lock if they land a Float Stone onto Keldeo-EX early on.
I was fortunate enough that my opponent either didn’t play Cobalion-EX or he was never able to get it out. I was also able to use Lysandre on Bronzor PHF early on to prevent him from evolving and using Metal Links. The matchup can be unfavorable depending on the build that your opponent is using, but I was able to defeat mine in two short games.
Round 2 vs. Jay Young (Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF/Rough Seas)
Another hard matchup. I was hesitant during the first game to attach Muscle Band to my Seismitoad-EX because of Assault Laser, but the damage my deck did without Muscle Band was mostly irrelevant due to Rough Seas. Jay was also able to Knock Out my Crobat PHF lines with his own before they did any relevant damage. We played two semi-long games both of which I ended up losing.
My advice here is to play your Head Ringers as fast as possible, to Knock Out your opponent’s Zubat with your own Crobat lines, and to try to recycle your Virbank City Gyms as much as possible. Even so, the matchup can be difficult because Manectric-EX is quite easy to set up if your opponent draws into Energy, and it does a lot more damage than you do! They’re also able to retreat easily and heal on the Bench using Rough Seas. But don’t get too discouraged, as things can easily swing your way since you’re able to use all of your healing resources.
Round 3 vs. James Proctor (Bronzong PHF)
James most definitely played Cobalion-EX. We were somehow able to play three games in the 50 minutes allotted to us, and I won after time was called.
I also remember having to deal with Aegislash-EX. Since I only play two W Energy, I had to use Quaking Punch for no damage several times. The best bet with Aegislash-EX is to Knock it Out using Poison damage and Crobat damage, and to hope that your opponent doesn’t play Steel Shelter (thankfully mine didn’t).
Round 4 vs. Johnathan Mallott (Landorus-EX/Hawlucha FFI/Crobat PHF)
Brit and I actually tested this matchup extensively, and found that it was generally in the favor of the Landorus-EX/Hawlucha FFI deck if the deck is able to draw into draw Supporters and stay awake. Hawlucha FFI is great against Seismitoad-EX since it deals massive damage, gives up only 1 Prize, and requires you to have a Golbat PHF or Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym in order to Knock it Out (all this assuming you have Muscle Band attached already).
The match ended up going my way after three games. I don’t remember exactly what exactly happened, but being able to play Super Scoop Up while your opponent is denied the card is handy. I also don’t think that Johnathan was able to draw into (or played enough) Hawlucha FFI to swing the match in his favor.
Round 5 vs. Justin Aaron (Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR)
Justin is a friend of my friend Josh Marking, and it was cool to be able to play him.
Our match was mostly reliant on whether or not I was able to Quaking Punch before he landed a Float Stone on Garbodor LTR. Since Justin played Seismitoad-EX as well, it was somewhat difficult for me to use Xerosic exactly when I wanted, so I couldn’t really rely on that strategy for shutting down Garbodor LTR. Ultimately Justin had to dig quite a lot for his Float Stones even when he was able to play them, and the damage buildup from Crobat PHF was just too much for his deck to deal with.
Round 6 vs. Darren Proctor (Primal Kyogre-EX/Keldeo-EX/Rough Seas)
I was considering IDing during this match but the large amount of other people with a 4-1 record made me reconsider. Thankfully I ended up winning since no one with a 4-2 record made it into top cut!
If you watch the finals of BC Provincials, you can see exactly how Primal Kyogre-EX shuts down Seismitoad-EX. If your opponent is able to attach Kyogre Spirit Link and draw into enough W Energy, the game is basically over. Thankfully my opponent didn’t draw what he needed and didn’t get out Primal Kyogre-EX even once (if my memory serves me correctly). In both games I was able to quickly take 6 Prizes before he got anything set up.
Top 8 vs. Sarah Beckwith (Mewtwo-EX/Chandelure-EX/Crobat PHF)
I also really like this version of Crobat, but unfortunately there isn’t much the deck can do against Seismitoad-EX. The Head Ringers negate the effect of Dimension Valley, and taking three turns to load up Mewtwo-EX for Psydrive makes the deck too slow. You’re also able to hit Mewtwo-EX for Weakness using your own Crobat PHF and your opponent’s Dimension Valley. Chandelure-EX did give me a really hard time, to the point where I just stopped benching Zubat — they’re able to Knock yours Out much faster with their Golbat PHF and Chandelure-EX’s Cursed Drop. It turns out that even a limited about of Crobat PHF is enough to win this matchup.
Top 4 vs. Charles Randall (Primal Groudon-EX/Donphan PLS)
I won Game 1 very quickly. Game 2 was going in my favor until I tried to use Hypnotoxic Laser on Primal Groudon-EX. Not only did I not Knock him Out, I gave Charles a Virbank City Gym so that he could use Gaia Volcano for 200 damage during his next turn. I didn’t see many Crobat in Game 3, and he was able to build up a Primal Groudon-EX that took me a while to take care of, in addition to a Donphan PLS with four Energy on it. In hindsight I would have started using Mewtwo-EX toward the middle of the game, as the massive Energy buildup on his side of the board would have been easy pickings.
Generally I think the matchup is in your favor since you hit Donphan for Weakness, and they’re much easier to Knock Out on the Bench with Crobat PHF. Your opponent also can’t hide behind Robo Substitute since they’re Item locked. Primal Groudon-EX is definitely a force to be reckoned with, however, so you have to prepare for at least one EX knockout if they ever get one online. I would advise you to build up as much damage on Primal Groudon-EX using Crobat, and then have an attacker on the Bench ready to Knock it Out after it comes out swinging.
Back Home: Washington States
Seeing how smoothly the deck ran at Missouri States, I wanted to play Seismitoad-EX again for Washington States. The deck felt unstoppable after that weekend and I decided to ride out that feeling as much as I could. The only change I made was substituting a second Xerosic for a fourth N, as I was expecting lots of Seismitoad-EX.
Unfortunately I was not as lucky at home and ended the day with a mediocre 3-3-1 record.
R1: Manectric-EX/Seismitoad-EX – WW
R2: Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX – LL
R3: Landorus-EX/Hawlucha FFI – WW
R4: Primal Groudon-EX/Masquerain PLB – WW
R5: Dialga-EX/Aegislash-EX/Bronzong PHF – L
R6: Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR – LW(T)
R7: Manectric-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Leafeon PLF – LL
I did end up playing against Seismitoad-EX quite a bit more, but (surprise!) the second Xerosic didn’t help. The matchup against Seismitoad-EX can be reliant on your early draws, and if your opponent is able to set up other Pokémon to sweep up after initially attacking with Seismitoad-EX, it can be a very hard game to recover from.
The game I lost to Bronzong PHF was against my good friend Eric Wallig. We played one very long game, and it turns out that Dialga-EX, Aegislash-EX, Cobalion-EX, and Steel Shelter can be difficult to face. Though Eric didn’t make Top 8, our friend Paul Johnston ended up winning the event with the exact same list!
Fly, Fly Again: Oregon States
After my disappointing performance at Washington States, I decided that it would be time to play something a little different for Oregon States. We had two weeks between the events, but I foolishly didn’t take advantage of the ample testing time. The night before States I attempted to test Exeggutor PLF, but ultimately felt like I didn’t have enough experience with the deck to pilot it the next day (perhaps a running current throughout all of my tournament deck choices).
At the venue I saw a lot of Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX and Manectric-EX/Rough Seas, which made it seem like a tough metagame for Exeggutor PLF regardless. However, it did set the stage for Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF to shine.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 33
Energy – 9
The Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF deck is much more focused on aggression and damage than Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF. Landorus-EX and Hawlucha FFI already do a significant amount of damage on their own; partnering them with Crobat PHF helps you achieve knockouts even faster. Unlike Seismitoad-EX, you’re not trying to control or limit your opponent at all. Ideally you’ll out-speed them and build up more damage than they can handle.
As it turns out … I myself didn’t particularly shine. I ended up with a 2-3 record, after which I dropped since I could only net CP from making Top 8. I feel a little justified in my deck choice as a Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF did make the Top 8 cut, but ultimately I lost against two Seismitoad-EX decks that I couldn’t out-draw.
R1: Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX – WW
R2: Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF – LL
R3: Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX/Darkrai-EX – LWW
R4: Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR – LL
R5: Landorus-EX/Crobat PHF/Primal Groudon-EX – LL
The matchups against Seismitoad-EX are ultimately all about drawing into Hawlucha FFI and staying awake. You generally don’t want to use Landorus-EX because of its Weakness to Water, and even Lucario-EX can be tricky if you’re unable to bench it without a Muscle Band. I wasn’t able to draw into what I needed against Slurpuff PHF, and his Crushing Hammers and Team Flare Grunt locked me out of the game.
The combination of Seismitoad-EX and Garbodor LTR is extremely difficult to deal with. Not only are you unable to use Items, but Crobat PHF is going to be useless unless you’re able to Lysandre and Knock Out Garbodor LTR. And since the deck runs through itself multiple times in one game, there’s a high chance that Garbodor LTR is coming back out — or that your Pokémon are going to be staying Asleep. My opponent relied on a draw engine of Roller Skates, Professor Juniper, Random Receiver, and VS Seeker — so my strategy was to use N late in the game in the hopes of him not being able to draw out of it. Unfortunately this only gave me a couple of turns to recover, and I wasn’t able to a whole bunch before he started cycling through his deck again.
My third loss was once again to my good friend Eric Wallig. He never benched Groudon-EX, and I made a couple mistakes that — at the very least — made me unhappy with my performance. Please note: Hawlucha FFI is Resistant to Fighting type. :) Perhaps this is why I insist so much on testing.
I do like the level of aggression and speed that comes with playing Landorus-EX. My only advice is to replace Dedenne FFI with any other card — it could literally be anything. I think AZ or Xerosic could both be helpful against Seismitoad-EX. I also like the idea of using Silent Lab to help your Flareon matchup. Overall I believe I made a good deck choice, but should have augmented it a bit more for what I was expecting to face. Ultimately you’ll most likely end up at the mercy of your matchups.
After dropping I went undefeated (and won) at the League Challenge side event using the same deck, but with a Silent Lab instead of a third Fighting Stadium. I wouldn’t say that the competition was as stiff since almost everyone else was still playing in the main event, but I’ll take whatever Points I can get.
I hope that my article has shown you how awesome Crobat PHF can be! Unless you’re using a Pokémon that 1-shots, Crobat could be a great addition to any deck as a way to rapidly add damage to your opponent’s side of the field. The free Retreat Cost and C Energy requirement for its attack make it easy to play in almost any deck. Its ability to snipe on the Bench should also not be overlooked! Considering all of the cards that we’ll be losing with the upcoming rotation, I think that we could see Crobat becoming a key force in the next format.
If you indeed made it all the way down here, I’d like to give you a huge thank you! Please let me know what you think, and I look forward to writing for you all in the future. Best of luck at Spring Regionals!
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