It does not seem like any time at all has passed since my last article came out, so I hope readers are willing to stomach more of what I have to offer. Last time, I spent the entire article attempting to make a philosophical endeavor combine with a Pokémon mentality to attempt to prescribe ways for us to be better people and players and I think the results were rather polarizing. To my dissenters: Worry not, as I have no plans to write something of that nature again for quite some time. The time it took me to put all of that together was rather taxing and not something I can do on the fly like I can with a simpler piece. I will not apologize for my thoughts or feelings, but if you felt that the piece did not help justify your subscription to SixPrizes, rest assured my writings will be more purely TCG focused in the future.
With that in mind, I did also receive many positive comments from readers and I cannot stress enough how helpful such comments are. As a writer, I pride myself in attempting to take different and less established routes to reach unique and more theoretical conclusions when it comes to Pokémon. I do understand that sometimes these attempts end up being less accessible than other Underground articles, so if there is consistent confusion in my articles, I promise to do a better job on clarifying my points and opinions.
As promised though, this month’s article will be more focused on showcasing the grinding playtesting I have done to prepare myself for US Nationals. Though, as the title implies, the bulk of today’s article will focus on developing an old favorite for the new format, I want to begin by discussing the deck I have played the most throughout 2015.
The Old Guard: Seismitoad/Crobat
Seismitoad/Crobat has without a doubt been my favorite deck in recent memory. I have played it for one Regional Championship, several League Challenges, and a handful of other local and unsanctioned tournaments. While most of my wins with the deck come from these smaller tournaments, I do think that I have a more than adequate understanding of the deck. I know my win percentage with the deck is somewhere close to 80%, and certainly my biggest regret of this season (so far) is not playing it the first weekend of State Championships where I am confident it would have given me an easy top cut placing.
The deck itself has changed very little since it first came onto the scene at the beginning of City Championships. However, Virizion/Genesect was still too popular at the time for the deck to totally take over. As Virizon/Genesect diminished in popularity because of Battle Compressor decks shifting into focus, this deck only became more and more popular. I would argue that the deck’s real surge in popularity can be owed to David Lopez’s Top 4 performance at Florida Regionals at the beginning of the BRC–PRC format.
For those who don’t know, David went on to cut all four weekends of States and bubble at 9th in Kansas City with the deck (and his brother, Daniel, won Illinois States with it as well), but such results only inspired others to experiment. The deck went on to win multiple State Championships, and many players cut with the deck throughout the format as a result of these experimentations. I know that the deck would not have been on my radar had I not talked to David about it. However, I think it is safe to say that the deck is no longer a well-kept secret and will definitely be a popular choice at US Nationals this week.
The most notable thing about all of David’s performances with the deck is that he never opted to include Lysandre’s Trump Card into his list, so when the ban became public, I knew that this was the first deck to try. Seismitoad, in theory, will always be a tier one threat as long as Hypnotoxic Laser and Super Scoop Up remain in the format. Losing Trump Card is a setback, but if David could put up such consistent results without ever including the card, I knew that the deck would still be well positioned in the format. The only new card that needed to be added to the deck is Shaymin-EX ROS, and so a few weeks ago, I attended a League Challenge in the post-LTC format and was confident in my decision to play Seismitoad/Crobat. Here’s the list I ended up using:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 36
Energy – 7
As mentioned before, the list for this deck really has never changed that much. There is no reason to fix what isn’t broken! My list and the lists of almost everyone else (whether they know it or not) are indebted to David’s initial build and so room for differences hardly exist. The main thing I wish I could fit in here would be one to two copies of Silent Lab, but I just cannot bring myself to cut anything. In the past, I opted to play only three Ultra Ball and three Super Scoop Up because I felt like Lysandre’s Trump Card would just enable me to reuse these cards as much as possible, but since that option no longer exists, I believe that we must dedicate our spots to more consistency and less corner cutting.
The biggest issue of contention for this deck definitely revolves around what the appropriate Crobat line ought to be. Borrowing from David’s original list, I have only ever played 4-3-3 and strongly feel like this is the best possible option. Many others, however, tend to opt for things like 4-4-3 or even 4-4-2. The former of these options is what I would love to play with the most, but I simply find myself wanting other tech cards instead of the 4th Golbat. Cards like AZ and Xerosic end up being much more important to me! My reasoning here is that in the most realistic, ideal game, you’re probably only going to need two Golbats, so playing three enables you to prize or discard one while still being able to achieve this goal. Four copies increases this possibility, though I think that three is more than able to get the job done. Similar logic applies for Crobat as well: I will also advocate that an ideal game will only require you to evolve two Crobats. The third copy allows you to comfortably prize or discard one, but such an option does not exist if your deck only runs two copies of the Stage 2.
As a whole, this deck will be one of the safest options around. I do not feel that it straight out beats anything but at the same time, I do not believe that you straight out lose to anything ever.
I am always a strong advocate of decks that can go about 50-50 across the board since I feel that my ability to play more optimally than my opponent will always tip my numbers into the advantage, assuming that luck and variance are close to equal for myself and my given opponent. Going into Nationals, I believe that this is a very strong choice and think you consider it. However, I have shifted my focus elsewhere in my testing!
The Darkprint: Three Yveltal Builds for Nationals
Dark decks have been at forefront of the game since Darkrai-EX’s release almost three years ago, which is totally crazy! It has won two World Championships and an incredible number of other events at every other level. Yveltal became the main face of the Dark decks when XY hit the scene last winter, and even without Dark Patch, it has proven a force to be reckoned with. Many powerful players like Frank Diaz and Kyle Haverland opted to play the deck for an overwhelming majority of the current season, which proves how relentless and versatile the cards can be.
Its ability to thrive in every new format is almost a given at this point, but in preparing for US Nationals, I can’t help but believe that this deck appears to be underrepresented, and so in my efforts to stay ahead of the curve, I have devoted a large percentage of my time to try to make this deck work in the Roaring Skies format. To begin, here is the list of assumptions that I have been working with:
1. Yveltal loses very little from the Trump Card ban. (Positive!)
Yveltal certainly opted to play this card, but really that is evidence of how powerful the card was and not that it was needed. Sure, it made matchups like Flareon and Night March more manageable, but in no way did Yveltal need to infinitely be cycling through its deck.
2. Manectric decks are out of favor. (Positive!)
M Manectric-EX has always seemed like a strong card, but it has never been able to shine properly. I am not sure if this is simply because it is underplayed or because the card itself is mediocre, but even with the release of more powerful cards that are weak to Lightning, Manectric still does not appear to have a place in the format. The card hit its stride at the end of last format in being paired with Water attackers, but that concept seems to have been abandoned in favor of newer and faster cards.
3. Yveltal is versatile. (Positive!)
One of Yveltal’s biggest strengths has always been how adaptable it is. You can play the deck in so many different ways (which will be discussed in great detail below) that it is always going to have too many options to be able to “hard counter” efficiently. Whether you focus on Garbodor, offense, or defense, Yveltal has always been difficult to deal with, and I believe that it can remain that way if targeted for the right metagame. Like I mentioned with Seismitoad/Crobat above, this versatility also gives the deck a good 50-50 against almost everything, which means that proper play can tip the scales in almost any matchup. With more options comes more new and unique solutions to matchups, which keeps your opponent from beating you with simplistic and streamlined tactics.
4. Trevenant is seeing play. (Positive!)
With the release of Wally, decks focusing around Trevenant XY have reached an all-time high. Before, people dabbled by playing the card with Accelegor DEX and Mew-EX as a cheaper replacement for Gothitelle LTR, but Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX’s popularity always kept this deck from becoming a real concern. However, Wally allows the deck to be built in a new way with a much heavier focus on Item lock, which proves to be a massive threat for almost every other deck in the format. So many of the other decks I have been testing cannot deal with Trevenant, but Yveltal can which gravitates me toward it even further. Donphan also seems to be rising in popularity, which is definitely a good thing for Yveltal as well.
5. Raichu is seeing play. (Negative!)
Though I do mention that I believe Manectric decks to be out of favor, Raichu-heavy decks are approaching a new height. Before, this card was simply teched as a 2-2 or 3-3 line to attempt to counter other Yveltal decks — or Lugia decks — but now the card is incredibly strong as a main attacker since it is a non-EX that can reach 180 damage very easily via Sky Field. I think Circle Circuit is one of the reasons that Manectric has decreased in popularity, as the little rat has become the most efficient way to abuse a Lightning attacker. Such popularity may not bode well for Yveltal.
6. Certain new decks are super fast. (Negative!)
Something I do worry about with Yveltal is that it may not have the agility to keep up with some of the new decks in the format. It is not a slow deck by any means, but Shaymin-centric decks like Mega Rayquaza (Colorless) may put out too much damage in too quick of a fashion and Yveltal simply may not have the option to respond. Dragon Rayquaza as well poses a threat since it has a massive amount of HP and likely won’t have too many Energy on the board for Yveltal to take advantage of.
So as you can see, the positives strongly outweigh the negatives, which further displays why I think Yveltal is worth investigating. If you think I am incorrect in any of my assumptions or have forgotten something that could be listed in either category, please let me know in the comments and I will attempt to address these concerns in due time. Now all that’s left is to jump right into the different types of Yveltal decks I have been trying!
Old Faithful: Yveltal/Seismitoad
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
2 Head Ringer/Enhanced Hammer
Energy – 12
The first list of Yveltal to explore ought to look very familiar. Truly, it is incredibly close to Ray Cipoletti’s list from State Championships which he piloted to a first place victory and I largely copied for a 4th place trophy of my own. I adjusted the Trainer lines in order to compensate for relying on Shaymin-EX ROS and added Trainers’ Mail to give it that extra boost in speed and consistency. The LaserBank combo has proved time and time again to be one of the most effective and annoying ways to dish out damage for any deck, and I’ve always believed that Yveltal abused this option very efficiently.
With a strong pairing with Seismitoad-EX, I feel this deck can handle any matchup, though it is notably the weakest against a Raichu-centric deck. However, very few decks can say that they are favored against so many other things, so I remain confident that this is worth testing. One final thing to note here is that the deck lacks almost any ‘tech’ slots, so it may be advisable to trim down the Trainers’ Mail count in favor of including cards like Xerosic, Pokémon Center Lady, or Silent Lab. More testing is needed, but I imagine that this list is the most consistent and powerful of all the lists that I will include for today.
Poison Control: Yveltal/Garbodor
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 34
Energy – 12
Again, this list should look mostly familiar and it is not even that much different than the list above, but it should show a different focus. While the first list focuses on general speed and consistency, this list sacrifices a handful of consistency options in favor of including Garbodor to Ability lock your opponent out of the game. Cards that this affect the most are things like the Crobat line, Shaymin-EX ROS, Jirachi-EX, Virizion-EX and so on. I have never been a giant fan of squeezing Garbodor into this deck, and I personally prefer to aim on consistency rather than disruption. However, it is still worth noting that this deck functions very well and ought to have an easier time against many of the things that the first list may struggle against.
Raichu decks, for instance, are very reliant on chaining multiple Shaymin-EXs together and using cards like Exeggcute PLF to consistently maintain 7-8 Pokémon on the Bench. With a fast Garbotoxin, you can prevent that from becoming a possibility, which will allow the baby Yveltal, Seismitoad, and Darkrai to overpower the Lightning deck. The key to beating Raichu is to rely on attackers other than Yveltal-EX, which makes me wonder if playing two Yveltal-EX and two Darkrai-EX may actually be the more optimal split in either of these lists. Indeed, more testing is needed before I can conclude more.
Electric Slide: Yveltal/Raichu
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 30
Energy – 9
This deck is the oddest of the three, but I think it has a lot to offer. I have seen a handful of players talking about decks very similar to this, and while all of our lists have been five to six cards different, the concept is still there. Instead of using Crobat or Ninetales to pair with Raichu, we focus on using Dark Pokémon to act as our supplementary option. Baby Yveltal does a good job of giving us Energy acceleration against decks that run Crushing Hammer or attempt to block DCEs with Aegislash-EX. When testing other Raichu-heavy decks, I noticed that one of my biggest problems was dealing with Sleep flips, but by running Darkrai-EX and Keldeo-EX, we can make those pesky Hypnotoxic Lasers far less of a threat while still attempting to have an advantage against anything that is weak to Lightning.
The heavy focus of Yveltal also makes Trevenant much more manageable, and being able to do 30-50 with Oblivion Wing will often make the difference on whether or not Circle Circuit is taking a knockout on an EX. In theory, I believe that this deck has an incredible amount of promise, but by shifting the focus to Raichu, we create some new bad matchups. Donphan, for instance, poses this deck much more of a threat than the other two lists, as does Landorus-EX (most likely paired with Crobat). At the end of the day though, the “best” Yveltal deck may just be a matter of picking our poison, which is a decision I think we should be comfortable in making.
Nationals is rarely won by a deck that beats everything and so most of the time we just have to accept our auto-loss and hope not to face it or getting lucky if we do face it. The more we worry, stress, or attempt to over-tech our deck for the problem cases, the more likely we are to ruin our consistency or create demons out of non-issues. Confidence, as I’ve said before, is one of the most important things we can have when preparing for an event with the magnitude of US Nationals.
I think today that we have done an excellent job of attempting to rework a veteran for Nationals, and even if Yveltal does not enter into your potential deck options, the main point I wanted to stress today is that I believe the banning of Trump Card gives new possibility to a wide plethora of older decks and concepts, and certainly such thinking is not limited to just my Y Cycloning friend.
With Canadian Nationals now in the books (and a nice article by Alex Hill), it is safe to say that we have a much clearer idea of what the metagame ought to look like. Raichu dominated the event and the top cut saw over half the decks focus on the combination of Circle Circuit and Sky Field, but it was Chase Maloney’s Metal deck that ultimately had the final say.
While I have not tested Metal much, I think the all of the Yveltal decks discussed today should be even to favorable against a standard Metal list, which only furthers my view that they could end up being a safe play this weekend. However, Raichu proves to be a daunting opponent for any of these decks and if its popularity remains, I may have to rethink my view. I currently believe that Raichu will be countered more than played this weekend, but perhaps this is wishful thinking.
By the time you’ve ready this article, I will ideally have arrived in Indianapolis to make my final preparations for the event. If you have any comments or concerns about this article, please voice them in the comments below or find me at Nationals! I always love to hear criticism whether it is positive or negative, so please do not hesitate to let me know what you think of my views and opinions. As always, it has been a pleasure writing and I look forward to seeing most of you soon and writing again!
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