Hello again, readers. As always, I’m glad to be back writing for you all. Since I last wrote, State Championships took place. I ended up making Top 8 at one and Top 16 at another, the former of which I will detail in this article. I’ll also lay out what I believe to be the three best deck choices for the upcoming Spring Regionals using the BCR–PRC format. Finally, I’ll take a look at some new cards that I think will make an impact on the format come the third weekend of Spring Regionals, where Roaring Skies will finally be legal.
Spinning Mule: Virginia States Report
State Championships are always somewhat of a struggle for me. They take place during a busy time of the school year, and with only one week between each event, there is little time to test. This generally makes for situations where deck choices are made mostly on theory … which don’t always work out.
Virginia States took place on the fourth weekend of the States cycle this year. Leading into the event, I wasn’t too sure what the best play would be. In Maryland the week prior, I played a Donphan deck to a disappointing 4-2-1 finish. Both of my losses there were to Seismitoad/Crobat. However, I am very comfortable with Donphan, as it has earned me a large portion of my current Championship Point total, so I decided to give it another shot in VA. After scouting around the event the morning of, I saw very little Seismitoad decks floating around, so I was feeling much more confident in my choice.
First, let’s take a look at the list I chose to pilot:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 36
Energy – 10
I’ll run you through a few interesting choices in my list. Dylan Bryan already did a great job going over Donphan in his article, but I’ll highlight a few key differences in our lists.
Maxing out Hawlucha may seem a little out of the ordinary, but it works out quite nicely. Firstly, Hawlucha provides your best bet of beating Seismitoad decks. Being able to pump out 100 damage for one Energy with ease really puts pressure on Toad. Additionally, Hawlucha acts as a nice “bouncer” for Donphan’s Spinning Turn since it has a 0 Retreat Cost.
Mr. Mime was included mainly as a response to Crobat. I found in testing that the opponent could simply attach an Energy to their Crobat and start spamming Skill Dive. With Resistance to Fighting, this would be a pain for Donphan to deal with. Mr. Mime eliminates this option for our opponent. Admittedly, there wasn’t a whole lot of Crobat in Virginia, so I probably could have gotten away without it, but if you’re expecting a cloud of Crobat in your area, I’d absolutely recommend adding it to your list.
At Maryland States, Virizion/Genesect decks started to gain a decent amount of popularity. I had heard about players including Silent Lab in their Donphan lists as a way to swing the matchup. I decided it was a good idea, so I threw two copies into the list. However, in actuality, while it can be a decent way to protect your Dophans from Red Signal, I found that I often prefer having a Fighting Stadium in play for the extra damage output. It can sometimes be difficult to achieve 2HKOs on Genesects with Silent Lab in play, as you need quite a few cards to be dealing at least 90 damage a turn with Spinning Turn. Additionally, both of my Virizion/Genesect opponents included counter Stadiums in their lists, making the argument for Silent Lab even weaker.
Silent Lab however can be helpful in other matchups. For example, it was crucial in my first round against Bronzong, allowing my Donphans and Hawluchas with Strong Energies attached to attack Aegislash-EX. I’m not sure how useful Silent Lab will be heading into Spring Regionals, but if you’re expecting a good bit of Virizion/Genesect I’d say it’s worth the inclusion.
0 Primal Groudon-EX
The final thing I’d like to point out about my list is the lack of Groudon. Many Donphan lists these days are including a small line of Primal Groudon as a way to close out the game. Since it can’t be Lysandre’d or Catchered, it’s safe to sit on the Bench and collect Energy while Donphan’s Spinning Turn does all the work. Once Groudon is ready, he can just come in and sweep the game for you.
However, in testing I found a 1-1 Groudon line to be inconsistent, and I decided to devote the space in my list to being more streamlined. This isn’t to say Groudon is bad by any means. However, I don’t believe including the Groudon line makes any matchup that much better, so I wouldn’t include it in the list.
Here’s what my matchups looked like throughout the day:
R1 vs. Bronzong/Dialga – W (2-1)
R2 vs. Night March – W (2-0)
R3 vs. Quad M Manectric – W (2-0)
R4 vs. Night March (Christian Ortiz) – W (2-1)
R5 vs. Virizion/Genesect – W (2-0)
R6 vs. Virizion/Genesect – W (2-1)
R7 vs. Yveltal/Garbodor – ID
T8 vs. Night March – L (0-2)
I ended up being the first seed with a record of 6-0-1. I looked at the standings heading into top cut and saw I was paired with Christian Ortiz, the eventual winner of the event. I was pretty happy about this because I was able to defeat him in Swiss.
Night March is generally a pretty decent matchup for Donphan, as long as the Night March isn’t running Empoleon. Donphan’s ability to hit and run to a Robo Substitute gives Night March huge issues, as the one-for-1 Prize exchange is thrown off. However, when you add Empoleon into the mix, Night March all of a sudden has a way to 1HKO Donphans, and Donphan has to 2HKO each Empoleon.
Unfortunately for me, the “curse of first” struck yet again, and Christian was able to defeat me in a quick 2-0 match. In the first game, Christian was able to get 2 Empoleons into play with Archie’s Ace in the Hole in the first three or four turns of the game. Shortly after, he was able to string together two Lysandres, wiping out both of my Donphans and that did me in. Game two went much worse for me, as I wasn’t able to find a Phanpy until my third turn. By then Christian was able to Lysandre it up and KO it with ease, and from there it just went downhill. And thus ended my Virginia (and overall) States run.
Highspot: My Top 3 Picks for Spring Regionals
The Spring Regionals cycle begins on May 16, which leaves less than two weeks to prepare from the time this article is published. The metagame has shifted quite a bit throughout the course of States. We’ve seen decks come in and out of popularity. We’ve also seen new decks rise up, such as Exeggutor and Groudon/Dusknoir.
Let me start by saying that I believe Exeggutor is a solid deck and play for Regionals. However, I haven’t had the time to put work into it and thus don’t feel I’m qualified to speak intelligently about it, so I’ll leave it out of this list.
No. 3: Night March/Empoleon
Night March is a deck that for me has fluctuated in and out of viability. I piloted a Night March deck at VA Regionals back in February, which I really enjoyed. Then once States came around, I had little to no faith in the deck with the rising popularity of Seismitoad decks that included Trump Card. Now, after seeing Christian Ortiz’s success with the deck, I am once again a believer. Christian really impressed me with his list and play with the deck, so I’ve modeled my list after his. Here’s my take on the deck:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 36
1 Town Map
Energy – 7
As I mentioned earlier, I believe this one was of the biggest assets of Christian’s list. Not only does Empoleon offer a great source of consistency, it can be an excellent attacker. It can also really swing certain matchups, such as Donphan or any deck that focuses on Landorus-EX.
This may seem a little low, as you might expect a Night March deck to play 3 or even 4 copies of this card, but I don’t mind it. I think having more of a focus on non-EXs is a great thing in this format. I like the idea of using Mew as a backup attacker rather than relying on it.
This is a really interesting inclusion in Christian’s list. You may think this is counter-productive for a Night March deck, but in reality, it can come in handy in situations where you overextend your Night Marchers. You can find yourself in situations where you have to discard X amount of Night Marchers to take a knockout, but then once your Night Marchers on the field get KO’d, you’re out of luck. However, with Trump Card, you can replenish them and start all over again. And with cards like Battle Compressor and Empoleon in the list, it’s not too hard to cycle through the deck again.
1 Town Map
Another interesting card Christian included in his list was Town Map. This is useful because prizing your Night March Pokémon can be very detrimental to your overall game plan. Getting them out of the Prizes as soon as possible is very crucial. Additionally, you can find Prized Supporters to help set up your hand for the following turn.
Night March is a great call if you’re not expecting too much Seismitoad at your event. The deck enjoys great matchups against decks like Virizion/Genesect, Yveltal, and — with the inclusion of Empoleon — Donphan. The biggest problem for Night March as I said earlier is dealing with a Quaking Punch followed up by a Lysandre’s Trump Card. Additionally, Night March has the ability to deal with random decks because of its sheer power. For all of these reasons, Night March comes in at Number 3 on this list.
No. 2: Yveltal/Seismitoad
Yveltal. One of my favorite decks of the season. Simply put, Yveltal-EX is one of the best cards ever printed, and Yveltal will almost certainly play a role in the metagame until its rotation. However, unlike last time I wrote about Yveltal, there is a lack of Garbodor in the list I’m about to talk about. Heading into Florida Regionals at the turn of the format, Garbodor held more value because of the expectance of Aromatisse and Bronzong decks with their new Mega partners, Gardevoir and Aggron. Since then, we’ve seen those decks practically fall off the map, so Garbodor got the boot. With the absence of the Trash Heap Pokémon, we gain a few spots in the list for consistency. Let’s take a look at a sample list:
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 37
2 Head Ringer
Energy – 12
I have been a huge fan of this since Florida Regionals. There are so many matchups where Seismitoad performs well, such as Night March, Flareon, Donphan, and Landorus/Crobat. Additionally, having another Weakness other than Yveltal’s Lightning Weakness has always been beneficial. I don’t see myself going below three copies of this card in any Yveltal list in the foreseeable future.
This card is a tech for the V/G matchup. Denying our opponent their G Booster really swings the matchup into our favor. Additionally, in a desperate situation, you can use its Hexed Mirror attack against Exeggutor, allowing you to get a fresh hand in a matchup where you usually would be locked out of the game.
2 Head Ringer
These are two floating spots in the list for me. I’m unsure if they are better served as Head Ringers or Enhanced Hammers, but right now I have them as Head Ringers. Special Energy removal doesn’t seem as crucial as it once was, but be sure to test both out and decide for yourself which you think better suits your metagame.
Yveltal is a great choice for Spring Regionals. It is very consistent and has mostly winnable matchups across the board. The only matchup that worries me with this deck is of course any deck focusing on M Manectric-EX. But if you’re not expecting much Manectric in your area, give Yveltal some thought.
No. 1: Donphan/Hawlucha
Donphan is the only deck in the format that I like more than Yveltal right now. It’s another very consistent deck that takes few bad matchups. Here’s an updated list since I last played it at Virginia States:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 36
Energy – 11
In comparing this list with my VA States list, you will notice a few key differences. First of all, the Silent Labs were cut. This is because I don’t think they were as necessary as I originally believed, and I think they are better served as a 4th Fighting Stadium and a 6th F Energy. These changes help in the Seismitoad matchup, allowing for more consistency.
Next, Mr. Mime was cut from the list. You can certainly still include it in your own list if you expect Crobat to be present at your event. However, in this list, I made the Mr. Mime a 3rd Silver Bangle. This is helpful in a lot of matchups, but the main purpose is so that you can find one before a Quaking Punch lock.
Finally, the Lysandre’s Trump Card was cut for a 2nd Repeat Ball. When recalling VA States, I realized that I never once played the Trump Card throughout the event — not even in the Night March matchup! I believe the reason for this is that there simply isn’t time for it. So often with Donphan we’re digging for the crucial Strong Energy or Fighting Stadium we need to get a KO that there isn’t time to sit back and play the Trump Card.
I like Donphan as a play for Regionals as long as you don’t expect a field filled with Seismitoad. With the recent changes to the list, I believe the Seismitoad matchup is certainly winnable, but it’s not something you want to run into 6 out of your 8 or 9 rounds during the day. I’d definitely recommend giving the beloved Elephant Pokémon a try!
Supersonic: Favorites from Roaring Skies
Roaring Skies is another set that brings a handful of promising cards. I’ll highlight a few cards that I think will have the biggest impact on the looming format.
M Rayquaza-EX 76 and Shaymin-EX
Let’s just start off with the obvious. I lumped these two together because the synergy is clear. Rayquaza requires you to fill your Bench with Pokémon using the new Sky Field Stadium, so why not use Shaymin to do so and pick up some extra cards in the process? There have been a few different takes on this deck so far, but I’d like to share mine with you.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 37
Energy – 7
I believe this deck needs to be played as a speed deck that aims to set up turn one or two at the latest every game. The quicker you set up this monster of a Pokémon, the quicker you will be able to tear apart your opponent’s field. One card that you might notice I excluded from the list is Altaria ROS 74. While I think this card is solid, we don’t know where exactly the metagame is headed, which is why I’m excluding it for now. If Lightning Pokémon end up being popular, I’d certainly include a thin line to keep our Rayquazas from being OKHO’ed.
The biggest problem I see this deck having, as I’m sure many people have figured out by now, is Seismitoad. Because the deck is so reliant on Item cards, Quaking Punch is a disaster waiting to happen. However, I believe that Seismitoad decks will start including more Energy removal. Simply Quaking Punching isn’t very effective if the Rayquaza deck is able to set up on the first turn of the game. If Seismitoad is able to pick the Energies off of Rayquaza and then Quaking Punch, Rayquaza will struggle to set up again without its Items. There’s a lot of work to be done with this deck, but this is a starting point for your own testing.
This is another card from Roaring Skies that really intrigues me. While it may not seem like much more than an Evosoda in Supporter form at first, what really makes it shine is the ability to evolve Pokémon on the first turn or in the same turn they were played. This opens up scary new possibilities. As Christopher Schemanske pointed out in his article, imagine a turn one Trevenant XY or Exeggutor PLF. Locking your opponent out of Items from the very first turn of the game in Trevenant’s case — or Supporters in Exeggutor’s — seems too good. It’s yet to be seen how effective this card will be, but the stage is set for it to bring a huge threat to the table.
This is a card that has had a decent amount of hype surrounding it. I’m not quite sure the best way to utilize it yet, but I have been toying with the idea of a Latios/Crobat deck. The concept is that you use Crobat and Golbat to rack up damage on your opponent’s Pokémon, then use M Latios’ Sonic Ace to finish them off. One advantage M Latios has going for it is the ability to KO Shaymin-EX in one hit, even if it’s on the Bench. Let’s take a look at a list.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 31
Energy – 10
This list is still in the developmental stage, so there is definitely room for improvement. The concept is interesting though, and the deck has a few cool things going for it. With the help of Mega Turbo and Double Dragon Energy, it’s not unreasonable to think that M Latios can pull off a Sonic Ace every turn. Additionally, Latios-EX allows you to apply early pressure with its Fast Raid attack. I included a heavy amount of Silent Labs in this list so that we can shut off any Mr. Mimes that pop up as well as Shaymin-EX’s Set Up Ability. I’ll definitely be testing this deck and making edits as need be. Give it a try if you’re looking for something different and interesting.
That’s all I have for this article. I hope you enjoyed it and learned something from it. I wish you all the best of luck at the upcoming Regional events. I’ll be at Ontario for the first week, Kansas for the second, and finally Wisconsin for the third week. If you see me there, feel free to come say hi! And as always, if you have any questions, by all means message me. I’m always happy to help!
One more thing I’d like to point out is that SixPrizes now offers coaching! If you or someone you know is trying to improve certain skills in the game, or just want to practice a few matchups, check out my coaching page. One-on-one coaching sessions can really help improve you as a player.
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