Hello again SixPrizes! I’m very excited to be writing for you once more. I received some great responses to my first article that truly showed the passion and deep involvement of this particular player base, and I’m grateful to be part of such a supportive and inviting group of people. Certain parts of the Pokémon community can be quite toxic and poisonous (ahem). But after playing at Regionals the past two weekends I realized how much I love going to tournaments, seeing my friends, and playing the game itself.
For this article, I’ll once again be discussing Seismitoad-EX! ? I’m sure most everyone else has had enough of this card, but I can’t stop talking about it because I really do think it was one of the strongest cards in the format — and that it will do some serious work in the new Roaring Skies format as well. I’m glad that I was able to play another Seismitoad-EX variant at Regionals, as I believe I’m only starting to unlock the true potential of the card. I get the same feeling at the end of every format — it’s like I’ve only started to gain a deeper understanding of the cards and how they all work together, and then the format changes once more.
It might seem a bit passé to continue talking about the past format now that Roaring Skies is officially legal, but I believe that the lessons I learned this past weekend at Utah Regionals can shed light on using Seismitoad-EX in this new format as well! I’ll quickly discuss my runs at Seattle and Utah Regionals, and then delve further into what I believe Seismitoad decks will look like with the addition of Roaring Skies.
Rainy Days: Seattle Regionals
My primary goal for Spring Regionals was to earn a (somewhat) significant amount of Points in order to get back into the Top 32 players in the US & Canada and earn a $1,000 Nationals stipend. I’m not sure if at this point I’ve actually gained anything, considering the amount of money I’ve already spent on traveling for tournaments — but Top 32 in North America is an impressive title in any case. Additionally, any amount of Points is helpful for my (long-shot) goal of getting Day Two status at Worlds, which could be achieved with a really good performance at US Nationals in July. For Spring Regionals, I would need a Top 8 finish in order to net any Points since I had already reached my Best Finish Limit.
After a very long day, I unfortunately had another mediocre run in Seattle, ending the tournament with a 4-3-1 record. After losing a close series to Andrew Jackson’s Landorus-EX/Crobat deck on the second-to-last turn of time, I dropped down to a 3-2 record and out of contention for Top 8. I continued to play in the tournament in order to win booster packs of Roaring Skies but it was difficult to keep myself in a competitive mindset after knowing I would no longer be able to place in Top 8. I’m sure my in-game performance after this point was less than optimal, but it was nice to be able to play without all of the added stress.
Here’s the breakdown of my matches at Seattle Regionals:
R1 vs. Seismitoad-EX/Gallade-EX XY45 – WW
R2 vs. Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Swampert PRC 36 – W
R3 vs. Landorus-EX/Lucario-EX/Hawlucha FFI/Crobat PHF – WW
R4 vs. Primal Groudon-EX/Aromatisse XY – L
R5 vs. Landorus-EX/Lucario-EX/Hawlucha FFI/Crobat PHF – WLL
R6 vs. Donphan PLS/Hawlucha FFI – LL
R7 vs. M Manectric-EX/Empoleon PLF – LW(T)
R8 vs. Exeggutor PLF – WW
I had decided to play Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX at this event for two reasons. First of all, it’s the deck I’m most comfortable with, having played it the most all season (something you can read about in my last article). And as countless others (Ray Cipoletti in particular) have mentioned before, the deck has generally good matchups across the board — so your primary focus can be on playing the deck well, and ideally you’re less at the mercy of TOM.
But apparently I didn’t end up playing so well! Previous I wasn’t seriously considering going to Utah Regionals, but after my unfortunate performance (and the general reminder of how fun Pokémon tournaments can be) I was rethinking it. Flights were now too expensive, but I had a group of friends who were driving to Salt Lake City and needed a fourth person in their car. After realizing that the trip would be quite inexpensive — if you don’t value your time too much — and seeing that I had Monday off as well, I decided that it would at least be worth the good time of another exciting Pokémon adventure.
Jazzed Up: Utah Regionals
Going to a Regional outside of an area you normally play in can make it difficult to choose a deck. Thankfully, I had a 14-hour car ride to consider my options. At first I wasn’t sure how seriously to take the tournament, since getting Top 8 seemed like a long shot for me. Thus, my number one choice on the drive was Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF/Swampert PRC 36. After Seattle Regionals, On The Bubble hosted a Seattle vs. Spokane (a friendly rival to Seattle) tournament where I had first played the deck, and I found that it was really fun to pilot. I genuinely enjoy control decks, and the deck is pure control at its core. Even bad matchups can be tilted in your favor if you are literally drawing exactly what you need.
Since I didn’t have a very good idea of what the metagame would be like, I primarily analyzed the results of Seattle Regionals Day 1 in order to choose a deck. Seattle was overpopulated with M Manectric-EX/Black Kyurem-EX PLS/Empoleon PLF decks, so I wanted to play something that would have a good matchup against that build, in addition to its counters. My other idea was to play Seismitoad-EX/Crobat, but I had really liked the Slurpuff version of Seismitoad-EX and wanted to try it out more.
Thankfully I decided to go for the more consistent version without the Swampert. What I learned from the tournament is that the consistency from the Swampert PRC 36 spots will help you draw whatever it is that you need anyway — it turns out that Swampert isn’t necessary and is more of a hassle. Additionally, my Swampert version didn’t run any Head Ringer, which was a key card in many matchups. Below is the list that I ended up going with — thanks to Eric Wallig for helping me with this one!
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 43
4 Professor Juniper
4 Acro Bike
Energy – 4
I won’t go into too many specifics, but I do want to explain a couple of key cards and choices.
I put in Mewtwo-EX in order to help round out some rough matchups. Primal Groudon-EX and Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX are the deck’s two hardest matchups, and Mewtwo-EX could potentially swing them in my favor. Mewtwo-EX is also useful against Yveltal-EX in case your opponent powers up one to begin 1-shotting your Seismitoad-EX, or to just take two quick Prizes at the end of the game.
Cassius is the real MVP from this weekend. It’s great to have a second healing card in addition to Pokémon Center Lady, especially for the mirror match. It also came in handy in various odd situations — if I ever needed to switch my Seismitoad-EX from the Active, or if I needed to get rid of Jirachi-EX from my field.
3 Head Ringer
I discussed this card a lot in my last article, but I’ll continue to rave about it. I’m not sure what the perfect number is, but I am a little scared to play less than three. The high count of this card is because it’s best to draw into them during your first turn, ideally before your opponent is able to play any Tools. In combination with Energy denial, it makes it difficult for your opponent to ever get set up.
The following is my match breakdown from Utah Regionals:
R1 vs. Night March – WW
R2 vs. M Manectric-EX/Black Kyurem-EX PLS/Keldeo-EX/Empoleon PLF – WW
R3 vs. Night March – WW
R4 vs. M Gardevoir-EX/Aromatisse XY – LW(T)
R5 vs. Seismitoad-EX/Hippowdon PRC – WLW
R6 vs. Exeggutor PLF – WL(T)
R7 vs. M Manectric-EX/Black Kyurem-EX PLS/Keldeo-EX/Empoleon PLF – WLW
R8 vs. Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF – WW
The night before Top 8 I decided to play Chase Moloney’s Yveltal-EX/Archeops NVI deck that he used to win Seattle Regionals. I played in Top 8 on Sunday and was completely rolled by my opponent, Mark Garcia. He made a really good metagame call and played Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX/Manectric-EX. Considering that the deck had just won the weekend before, and my known penchant for playing Yveltal-EX, I can really only blame myself. In hindsight, I would have liked to play something completely unpredictable — or at least I would have liked to think a little more about my deck choice. Congrats to Mark for getting second!
So Sweet: Why I’m Loving Card Advantage
If I had to choose the strongest reason for why I liked playing Slurpuff PHF and why I believe that the deck works well, it would have to be card advantage. Card advantage refers to the idea that the more cards you have in your hand, the more options you have for choosing what to play. When you have more cards in your hand than your opponent does, you have an advantage over him or her — there are more things you can do, either proactively or reactively. This is the reason why you N your opponent to two if all they need is a Lysandre to win.
Card advantage is a rarely discussed concept in Pokémon — as opposed to other card games — primarily because the game mechanics of Pokémon are vastly different than games like Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone. The foundational cards of most Pokémon decks are Supporters that either refresh your hand, get rid of your hand completely and replace it, or refresh your opponent’s hand — these are cards like Professor Juniper, N, and Colress. Search cards are also integral to Pokémon mechanics — this refers to any card that allows you to search your deck, such as Ultra Ball, Jirachi-EX, Korrina, etc. We’ve also recently seen an increase in draw support from Item cards, specifically Trainers’ Mail, Acro Bike, and Roller Skates.
The draw and refresh mechanics mentioned above make card advantage much less relevant to winning or having an advantage in Pokémon than in other games. If your opponent has a large hand, it’s easy to N them in order to negate that advantage. If you are able to use Item cards in order to search your deck, you can build your deck so that you will be able to do these kinds of searches consistently (by playing four copies of such Item search cards). Imagine if Pokémon was a game where you didn’t have access to your deck, where you weren’t able to change your hand, or where draw support was limited or at much higher cost — you would be forced, as a player, to use a strategy that relied on exactly what you draw and almost nothing else. It’s because of these kinds of mechanics that card advantage isn’t a strong indicator of success in Pokémon — but when you are able to consistently shut down these mechanics with Seismitoad-EX, card advantage suddenly becomes a much more important concept in regard to strategy.
The reason why Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff works so well in the current format is because most decks are using Items for search and draw support, and many decks are playing low (or lower) copies of N. Seismitoad-EX is able to shut off many of the mechanics that make card advantage in Pokémon irrelevant. At the same time, Slurpuff increases your hand size significantly, so that you almost always have card advantage against your opponent. You are basically changing the mechanics of how the game works, and then taking advantage of that change.
To enter specifics into this concept, let’s look at how certain popular decks are currently built. Night March, Flareon PLF, and Exeggutor PLF all primarily use Items to draw into the cards that they need, and they also use Items like Battle Compressor and Ultra Ball to search their deck. Empoleon PLF with Archie’s Ace in the Hole is what’s used to combat this disadvantage, but it’s a difficult combination to pull off if you are unable to use Items to reduce your hand size to one. M Manectric-EX also relies on Battle Compressor to set up its board, so an early Quaking Punch slows it down.
On the flip side, decks like M Gardevoir-EX/Aromatisse are hard to combat because they don’t rely on Item search or Item draw and refresh. Being able to use Fan Club to search out Pokémon, as well as being able to use Xerneas XY’s Geomancy to search out and attach Energy, significantly hinders Seismitoad-EX’s strategy.
However, if you are able to stop your opponent from drawing, searching, or refreshing their hand (and your hand), then you are able use Slurpuff to gain a significant card advantage against your opponent. And suddenly, you have so many more options than they do. This is a concept I had not truly realized before this tournament — maybe because I hadn’t played many games with the deck. But my primary strategy throughout my games was to build up a hand to the point where I could do exactly what I needed to gain advantage on board. I often played games that started slowly and did not begin in my favor, but that I ended up winning after a successful Seismitoad-EX lock and after gaining significant advantage with Slurpuff PHF. Additionally, it was easy to use disruptive Supporter and Item cards in reaction to what my opponent was doing without having to give up the advantages of drawing cards, since Slurpuff was able to take the drawing role.
Tamin’ Shaymin: The Key to Overcoming Roaring Skies
To be completely honest, I haven’t played very many games in the new format. I’m not going to any Regionals this weekend, so I haven’t felt the need to test. However, I think the concept above is still relevant, with one obvious exception: Shaymin-EX ROS and the two big decks that will be using it — M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76 and M Rayquaza-EX ROS 61. However, I don’t think that Shaymin-EX ROS is as big a threat as it seems — and there are several ways to stop it!
What you first must realize is that using Shaymin-EX ROS to its full potential requires you to have a small hand size — something that is currently only achievable almost exclusively through the use of item cards. Additionally, the two big decks that will abuse Shaymin-EX ROS — both of the M Rayquaza decks — also rely on using Item cards to power up. Thus, even if your opponent is able to draw all 6 cards, it’s quite possible that they won’t be able to use the majority of them.
I’ve included two lists for decks that I believe can combat the fast Mega Pokémon decks: One is a modified version of Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF, and the other is a version of Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor LTR that seeks to disrupt any Shaymin-EX ROS shenanigans as early as possible.
Deck 1: Seismitoad/Slurpuff
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 44
4 Professor Juniper
4 Acro Bike
Energy – 4
The Key Strategy: Ideally, you are able to use Silent Lab in the first couple of turns to block Shaymin-EX ROS from using Set Up. After several turns of attacking with Quaking Punch, your opponent will no longer be able minimize their hand in order to abuse Shaymin. You should then be able to whittle down their board state with cards like Crushing Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, and Xerosic. Though it make take some time, Seismitoad-EX can take 6 Prizes for you.
Deck 2: Seismitoad/Garbodor
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 45
3 Professor Juniper
4 Acro Bike
Energy – 4
The Key Strategy: The most important thing you can do here is to get a Garbodor LTR on your first turn using Wally. Even though you won’t be able to use Quaking Punch on turn one, your opponent will need to expend more resources in order to remove a Tool from Garbodor LTR. From then on, you’ll be able to cycle through your deck very quickly in order to abuse cards like Crushing Hammer and Hypnotoxic Laser.
Note: The Shaymin-EX ROS may seem a little counterintuitive in both of these decks, since you’re going to have a large hand with Slurpuff PHF, or because Garbodor LTR blocks its Ability. However, I think it could be used quite well on your first turn, if you’re able to narrow your hand down — and the card can be integrated easily in decks that are already utilizing Double Colorless Energy.
The last time I wrote for you all, I was enamored with increasing Seismitoad-EX’s damage output with Crobat PHF. But after playing with Slurpuff PHF this past weekend, I realized the power of a deck that’s extremely consistent, and that also has a well-integrated strategy. Unlike Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF, the strategies of Seismitoad-EX and Slurpuff PHF work together more smoothly.
I also previously discussed the importance of playing a deck with which you are comfortable and have a lot of practice. After this past weekend — and after my poor performance in Seattle — I may have to reconsider that idea. I did well with a deck I had in reality played maybe one or two games with, and then did terribly with a deck I had been playing almost all season. I still stand by my claim it’s important to test as much as possible, but you can be a better player if you’re comfortable with many different kinds of decks and strategies. And you can become an even better player than that by identifying new types of strategies through testing a variety of decks.
I hope this article provided some insight into why Seismitoad-EX will work well in the next format. I know many people are ready for Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym to rotate, but I’m excited that I’ll be able to use a deck that isn’t focused on M Rayquaza-EX. Good luck to everyone at Regionals this weekend, and thanks again for reading!
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