Hey there! Quite a bit has happened since my last article, both in my personal life and in the Pokémon Trading Card Game. A few weeks after I last wrote I managed to earn my invitation to the World Championships by placing in the Top 8 at both the Iowa and Oklahoma State Championships playing Bronzong and Exeggutor, respectively. The day after I earned my invite, I was accepted to the University of North Texas where I’ll begin studying in the fall!
Fast forward to today, I’m both excited and nervous because this weekend I’ll be graduating from high school and finishing a large chapter of my life. After this, I’ll finally be able to put all of my time into the game during the summer and focus on doing well at U.S. Nationals and the World Championships.
Now that you’re up to date on my life, I’ll talk about my thoughts on the closing of the BCR–PRC format and the beginning of the BCR–ROS format.
In the Books: Recapping the Boundaries Crossed–Primal Clash Format
After playing in 4 States, 1 Regional, and a few League Challenges, I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the BCR–PRC format. It is one of the most diverse formats that the game has had in years, and it could be both extremely fun and desperately boring depending on the matchup being played.
Florida Regionals through Week 1-of States
At the beginning of the format, Florida Regionals was the only large tournament that had played out and it left a huge impact on what was being played for quite a while. Flareon was one of the most played decks, as was Yveltal/Garbodor, both of which had impressive finishes in Florida.
During the first weekend of States, Yveltal and Seismitoad decks were the most dominant and managed to take home two-thirds of the 1st place trophies. Seismitoad/Slurpuff was played quite a bit, and Seismitoad/Crobat began popping up more and more after the first week.
Weeks 2 and 3-of States
After the first weekend of States, players noticed that Exeggutor managed to place at a few States and a lot of people had no clue what the deck did and how it managed to do well. Although it wasn’t heavily played during the second and third weekends, it managed to take home two 1st place finishes as well as two Top 8 finishes.
Week 4-of States
It wasn’t until the fourth weekend of States that Exeggutor had a huge jump and managed to take home three 1st places and three 2nd places with seven more Top 8 finishes. During the same weekend, Virizion/Genesect made a huge jump and managed to take home four 1st places as well as three 2nd places.
It became pretty clear that lock decks were a huge part of the format after States, and most people knew to either join the dark side and play Seismitoad or Exeggutor, or find a strong counter to the two decks. The two decks combined took home 18 wins during States, which is a bit over 38% of the 47 States that played out in total. With a total of 15 different decks winning State Championships, it was clear that some decks could tackle Seismitoad and Exeggutor, but not always both at the same time.
Week 1-of Spring Regionals
During the first weekend of Spring Regionals lock decks were in full force but only managed to take one of the three 1st seeds in Standard. In Seattle, Chase Moloney piloted Manectric/Empoleon to a a very strong 1st seed finish (and eventually 1st overall as well). The deck was fairly low on the radar, but I know a lot of people were testing it and it even saw some play during States. In Massachusetts, Jimmy O’Brien piloted his Flareon deck to the 1st seed, which surprised quite a few people because many believed that the deck had died off and struggled against a lot of the top decks.
If you haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, here is Chase Moloney’s Day 1 list courtesy of Team Fish Knuckles’ YouTube channel:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
Although the lock decks only managed to take one 1st seed, Seismitoad and Exeggutor made up a large portion of the Top 8s at each event, which isn’t a huge surprise to anyone. Exeggutor managed to pull ahead of Seismitoad on finishes in the Top 8s, but Seismitoad decks managed to place higher overall than the Exeggutor decks did.
In Expanded, Gardevoir seemed to be one of the most popular choices as it managed to take quite a few spots in each Top 8 as well as 1st place in Ontario and 2nd in Massachusetts. In Seattle, Chase Moloney piloted an Yveltal/Archeops to a win. The deck is fairly popular in Japan and has performed well there, and seems to be one of the best Expanded decks in the format. Trevenant/Accelgor underperformed which isn’t too surprising as a lot of people were expecting it and thus played a deck that would have an edge over it. In Massachusetts, Dylan Bryan piloted an interesting and very straightforward M Manectric-EX/Aegislash-EX deck to a win. Although it was unexpected, the deck was strong and seemed to be a top contender in Expanded.
Week 2-of Spring Regionals
After Week 1, the format was kind of awkward. A lot of players no longer felt comfortable playing Exeggutor because of the amount of Seismitoad decks that were countering it, as well as the now popular Manectric/Empoleon deck. I personally planned on playing Exeggutor in Kansas, but after seeing the results myself decided it might not be as safe as I’d hoped.
After spending a lot of time working on school and the new Boundaries Crossed–Roaring Skies format, I decided to start testing BCR–PRC a bit more. I felt comfortable with most decks and have played a large number of games with nearly all top decks, but I couldn’t decide what was the strongest play for Kansas. I talked to Chase Moloney about what the play was, and he told me to play his Manectric/Empoleon list.
On Friday night we headed up to the convention center to play a few side events and test for a little while, and that’s when I realized that Gardevoir might be a strong play. It is very strong against Manectric/Empoleon which I was expecting to be one of the most played decks, and it fares well against Seismitoad and Exeggutor decks too.
This is what I ended up playing at Kansas:
Pokémon – 18
2 M Gardevoir-EX
Trainers – 30
Energy – 12
After looking at a few lists that performed well during States, I managed to piece together this list. I hadn’t played Gardevoir much before, but it’s very straightforward and easy to pick up. I really liked the list, and I personally wouldn’t change anything.
After facing Tool Drop Round 1 and getting crushed, I managed to pick up a few wins and was feeling decent about my choice. In Round 4 I played against Dylan Dreyer who was playing an Yveltal/Seismitoad deck with Rock Guard, and the player that lost most likely had no shot at making the Top 8. In Game 1 I missed a huge Sleep flip that ended up costing me the game after getting a very strong start and nearly rolling over him. In Game 2 I started with an Xerneas and 5 Energy, and despite nearly setting up at the end to possibly sweep with a Gardevoir, I took my second loss.
After a few rounds I decided to drop and watch my friends play. My teammate Jordan Roberts was on fire and managed to take 1st seed with his Seismitoad/Crobat deck. I slightly regret not playing Manectric/Empoleon, but I think Gardevoir was a strong play and easily could’ve had a much stronger performance.
Here are the Top 8 Swiss standings from Kansas:
1. Jordan Roberts – Seismitoad-EX/Crobat PHF
2. Harrison Leven – M Manectric-EX/Empoleon PLF/Black Kyurem-EX PLS
3. Travis Nunlist – M Manectric-EX/Empoleon PLF/Black Kyurem-EX PLS
4. Caleb Gedemer – Exeggutor PLF
5. Kevin Norton – Seismitoad-EX/Jynx FFI/Munna BCR
6. Kyle Haverland – Yveltal-EX/Seismitoad-EX
7. Michael Slutsky – M Manectric-EX/Empoleon PLF/Black Kyurem-EX PLS
8. Shawn Bernaky – Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF
As you can see, Manectric/Empoleon was huge and managed to take three spots in the Top 8. Seismitoad-EX decks managed to stay strong and took up three of the spots, while Exeggutor dropped down to only one spot in the Top 8. From what I saw, the field was filled with Manectric/Empoleon and Seismitoad/Crobat, with a small mix of just about everything else in the format.
The following day was the Expanded Top 8 which finished like so:
1. Harrison Leven – Yveltal-EX/Archeops NVI
2. Caleb Gedemer – M Gardevoir-EX/Aromatisse XY/Slurpuff PHF
3. Jordan Roberts – Seismitoad-EX/Archeops NVI
4. Travis Nunlist – Rayquaza-EX DRX/Eelektrik NVI
5. Kevin Norton – Seismitoad-EX/Munna BCR
6. Kyle Haverland – Primal Groudon-EX
7. Michael Slutsky – Klinklang BLW + PLS/Aegislash-EX/Darkrai-EX/Keldeo-EX
8. Shawn Bernaky – M Gardevoir-EX/Aromatisse XY
Once again Yveltal/Archeops came out on top, and this time the list was only a few cards off of the list that Chase Moloney used to win Seattle Regionals the weekend before. Four decks popped up in the Expanded half that hadn’t been played much before, with Klinklang being the most interesting. Michael used the same type of deck to go 9-0 at U.S. Nationals in 2013 before losing to the eventual winner Edmund Kuras in Top 64.
My favorite deck out of the Top 8 is the Seismitoad/Archeops that Jordan piloted to Top 4 losing to Caleb Gedemer after prizing part of his Archeops line in Game 3. The only problem with the deck is that it struggles to put out large amounts of damage unlike its counterpart Yveltal/Archeops.
This is the list that he used:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 46
Energy – 4
The list focuses on annoying your opponent as much as possible with a ton of flippy cards while attacking with Seismitoad the entire game. He included Archeops to counter many things, including Accelgor, Aromatisse, Eelektrik, and really anything that plans on evolving. The deck ran well and I think he could have taken home the gold had his Prizes not cost him the game in Game 3 of Top 4.
That’s all I have to say about the BCR–PRC format! I loved and hated the format and can’t say that I’ll miss it too much. As diverse as it was, there were a lot of things that could go wrong and the amount of lock decks that were dominant wasn’t very fun. Unfortunately, the future isn’t looking too bright in that regard as it seems Trevenant XY and Seismitoad-EX will be powerhouses in the near future.
Higher Education: Plays for Week 3-of Spring Regionals
“I must (Emerald) break you.” — Ivan ‘Mega Rayquaza’ Drago
As soon as Roaring Skies was playable on PlayTCG, I began testing multiple different decks with my friends. I was extremely tired of the BCR–PRC format, so a fresh format was fun to mess around with and getting some early testing done never hurts. I’ll share my up-to-date testing experience and what I would play for Regionals this weekend.
4. Mega Rayquaza [Colorless]
My initial testing began like most others: with Colorless Rayquaza. I decided to try out the monster and was impressed at how quickly the deck was able to set up and put out large amounts of damage. I tried two variants of the deck and realized that both struggle against any form of lock, whether it be Ability lock (Silent Lab, Wobbuffet PHF, Garbodor LTR), Item lock (Trevenant XY, Seismitoad-EX), or Supporter lock (Exeggutor PLF).
The first build that I tried out was very vanilla and similar to what most people were testing at the start of the format. It was nothing special, but it helped me understand how the deck worked and gave me a slight feel for the matchups and allowed me to change the list up to be strong against what I expect the meta to be.
Here is my current build of the deck:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 35
Energy – 8
There are a few unique things about the my current list, but overall it’s focused on consistency and trying to have a solid matchup against Trevenant/Shaymin and Seismitoad decks.
At first, I thought Winona was a really strong card and had 2 copies in the list. After playing the deck for a while, I realized that I rarely used Winona and would almost always use Professor Juniper to dig for more cards. Playing one wouldn’t hurt, but it’s a very niche card and I decided against it.
A lot of lists are running only one, but having the 2nd gives you a better chance at drawing it while under Item lock. Being able to Lysandre out of Trevenant lock is huge and can put you in a position to steamroll your opponent.
The deck has a very hard time against Wobbuffet, so I decided to throw in Escape Rope over Switch. A lot of the time your opponent will have more than one Wobbuffet in play, but if they don’t you’ll be happy you play Escape Rope.
4 Grass Energy
I decided to run 4 Grass Energy over the 2-3 that many play due to Crushing Hammer being popular in Seismitoad-EX and Trevenant decks. Running 4 allows you to safely discard them with Battle Compressor to attach with Mega Turbo and still leave some in the deck to attach regularly.
I believe the deck is a strong play for this weekend, but expect to run into a lot of people attempting to counter your deck in some way or another. The deck could easily take home the gold if it runs into good enough matchups and people aren’t prepared for it, but I’d be very surprised if that happened.
3. Mega Rayquaza/Empoleon
This is the deck that I’ve put the most time into, and for good reason. I feel like the deck has strong matchups across the board and sometimes you can steal games just by having insane starts. I first found out about the deck from my friend Eric Gansman who I’ve been testing with lately. This runs much smoother than my own Rayquaza deck and has a solid counter to Safeguard Pokémon — like Suicune PLB and Sigilyph LTR — in Empoleon.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 35
Energy – 8
Like the other Rayquaza deck, it struggles against disruption of any kind, and it may struggle against decks like Seismitoad and Trevenant even more since it relies on Keldeo-EX to get rid of Special Conditions rather than Virizion-EX.
Keldeo-EX is nice though because you won’t have to worry about getting Pokémon stuck in the Active Spot and having to waste Energy to retreat them. You can also attack with Keldeo-EX if you’re in a bad spot.
The Supporter count is very low, and I recommend beefing it up if you’re expecting a lot of Seismitoad and Trevenant. The cards I would consider cutting are the two Trainers’ Mail and the fourth Mega Turbo. These cards are very strong but there are very few easy cuts in the deck, and getting rid of these won’t ruin your game plan. In their places I recommend the following: a 4th Professor Juniper, a 2nd Lysandre, and either a 2nd N or a Colress.
The list hasn’t changed much since I first began testing it, and I feel like it is very powerful. I unfortunately do not recommend playing this if you expect a lot of Seismitoad and Trevenant decks as it will have a hard time setting up and most likely fold under the pressure, even with the suggested changes above.
If you’ve paid attention lately I’m sure you’ve heard of this monstrosity. Trevenant with Wally is insanely powerful if you can hit it on turn one, and it can shut down nearly every deck. Combine it with annoying cards like Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, and Hypnotoxic Laser, and you have one of the most aggravating decks to play against in the format.
One of my least favorite cards in the format is Seismitoad-EX, but the saving grace about Seismitoad is that he can’t attack on the first turn. Trevenant is in effect as soon as he’s Active, meaning that if you Wally on turn one going first, your opponent can’t sneak in any Items during their first turn.
Here is my list:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 43
Energy – 4
My goal for the deck was to remain consistent and to disrupt the opponent as much as possible, which I feel this list does very well. There are a lot of cards I’d like to fit into the deck, but this covers most of the bases that I want.
A lot of players are playing Mystery Energy and even Psychic Energy in the deck which I feel is too slow. They help in the mirror quite a bit, and if you’re expecting a decent amount of mirror matches they may not be bad. I personally feel like they take up too much space and are usually dead cards.
The deck has a lot going for it, and I think it has a good shot at taking home a win this weekend at one of the Regionals, or possibly even both. With just enough luck, this deck can ruin your opponent’s game plan before they even get a turn.
I saved the deck that I would most likely play if I were going to a Regionals this weekend for last. It’s hard to say that I would 100% play it, but I feel like it is overall a very strong play. I’ve personally stayed away from straight Seismitoad-EX decks for the entire season, but I feel like this deck is too good not to consider.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 44
Energy – 4
The list is very techy, but very consistent. I’ve been messing around with this for some time now, and the list has changed a lot. I’ll explain some of my choices below.
At first I was skeptical about this card, but after playing some games with it I realized that it’s really strong. Being able to drop it out of nowhere and possibly take a surprise knockout is very powerful and can turn the game around. In one of my earlier lists I was playing a Dedenne FFI to use with Absol to try to take a surprise knockout on M Rayquaza-EX. The combo was cute, but with the high amount of Hammers in the deck, I ended up usually just winning without it. Breaking the lock against Rayquaza is very scary because the deck can go off if you give it a turn of Items.
1-1 Ninetales PRC
This card has seen a small amount of play since its release, but it has usually been blown off due to space. It’s very nice against Colorless Rayquaza decks because you can lock a Virbank City Gym into play and they will no longer be able to play Sky Field and Knock Out Seismitoad-EX in one hit. It’s also nice against decks that run heavy Silent Lab to give you permanent access to your Abilities.
This is mainly for Trevenant/Shaymin and other Seismitoad-EX decks, but it can be good against just about anything. It can buy you time every now and then, and the Keldeo-EX gives you a nice retreat option every turn.
The deck is very flexible, so you can mess around with it and get a feel for how it plays and try adding your own tricks to it. I expect Seismitoad-EX/Shaymin-EX decks to be really strong during Regionals and Nationals in the upcoming weeks/months.
Pop Quiz: This or That (and How Many?)
There are a few cards that I feel people are unsure of in the current format that I’ll talk about a bit. These are my personal opinions on the cards, so you may disagree with what I have to say about them.
Jirachi-EX still worth playing?”1. “Is
And I think the answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. In the new format Jirachi-EX is still as powerful as it was in previous formats, if not a bit more. With the release of Shaymin-EX ROS, Jirachi-EX may be deemed inferior due to its lower HP and the fact that you can only really use one Jirachi-EX to its full potential per turn.
That being said, it still has the advantage of grabbing something specific, whereas Shaymin-EX nets you random cards that may be useless or even problematic (e.g. drawing into VS Seekers when you plan on playing Professor Juniper). With the return of Trevenant, being able to play Jirachi-EX to search for a Lysandre is very nice and can be very important. I think many decks will continue to run Jirachi-EX, but it will see less play.
Acro Bike or Trainers’ Mail?”2. “Should I play
These two cards are fairly distinct and serve different purposes. In decks that are extremely fast and aren’t as worried about discarding resources, Acro Bike is a very good card. Trainers’ Mail is also great in the same situation, as most of the time extremely fast decks are looking to dig through their deck for certain Trainers. The difference between the two cards is how far you go through your deck, and what you can choose.
With Acro Bike, you get to choose between the top two cards of your deck, adding one to your hand and discarding the other. With Trainers’ Mail, you get to look at the four top cards of your deck, choose a Trainer that isn’t a Trainers’ Mail and add it to your hand and then shuffle the rest back into your deck.
The current format is heavily based on Trainers, so only being able to grab a Trainer isn’t a huge downside. Most decks are running at least 30 Trainer cards, so on average you should hit a Trainer ~94% of the time (this is a very vanilla estimate — you can use the formula below to figure it out). With Acro Bike you are guaranteed a card but at the cost of discarding the other card which could be important.
Trainers’ Mail has a lot more math behind it than most think. Here’s an example:
You’re in the middle of the game and you’re playing my Rayquaza list that runs 31 Trainers that aren’t Trainers’ Mail. You have 4 Prizes remaining, and after searching your deck you know that your remaining Prize cards are: Professor Juniper, Mega Turbo, Double Colorless Energy, and Shaymin-EX. You have 16 cards in your discard pile, 6 cards in your hand, and 12 cards on the field. Of the 31 Trainers in your deck, 2 are prized, 2 are in your hand, 3 are on the field, and 11 are in your discard pile. You have 22 cards remaining in your deck, 13 of which are Trainers.
- 13 Trainers / 22 cards in deck
- 11 Trainers / 16 cards in discard
- 3 Trainers / 12 cards on field
- 2 Trainers / 6 cards in hand
- 2 Trainers / 4 Prizes
Now, to calculate the odds of hitting a Trainer off of Trainers’ Mail, you can use the formula: 1-((((D-T)!)-((D-T-M))!))/((D!)-((D-M)!)-1))
- D = Number of cards in deck (22)
- T = Number of targets/Trainers (13)
- M = Number of cards you have to choose from (4)
Which will break down to:
Which eventually breaks down to:
Which ends up showing that ~99% of the time, you will hit a Trainer off of Trainers’ Mail. While this seems extreme, it’s interesting to know that you can calculate any situation in a game. This game, just like any other card game, comes down to random numbers and you can figure out the odds of doing certain things by using formulas to calculate them (e.g. the odds of drawing X card off of a Professor Juniper, prizing cards, etc.).
Whether or not you should play this card may come down to the type of deck that you’re running. If you play a lot of important Pokémon and Energy, you should consider playing Acro Bike over Trainers’ Mail. If you have a high reliance on cards like Hypnotoxic Laser and Crushing Hammer, you should consider playing Trainers’ Mail over Acro Bike.
3. “How many Shaymin should I play?”
This one depends on the type of deck you’re playing. If you’re playing a deck that runs Sky Field, 3–4 should be a minimum. If you’re playing a deck with multiple Super Scoop Ups/other cards that pick up Pokémon, 3 is a solid number to go with. In normal decks that aren’t running either, 1–2 is usually enough. In Colorless Rayquaza, the only answer to this question is 4.
The card is great and will become a staple in any deck that doesn’t shut off Abilities. I recommend picking up a play set once the price goes down a bit, if it does. They’re currently fairly expensive but I expect them to drop off a little bit soon, and then eventually pick back up in value in the future.
I really hope you enjoyed this article! I put a lot of time into it, so if you have second feel free to leave a like below! I won’t be able to make it out to Georgia or Wisconsin this weekend, but if you are going I wish you luck. The format is crazy and it will be fun to see what kind of decks pop up and do well.
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