Hey there again, SixPrizes readers! Man, a ton has happened this season, and now, sadly, it is time for it all to come near a close. We’ve braved the introduction of the new Expanded format, been shocked by the announcement of the BCR-on format and the sky-high prices of Landorus-EX, started off the year with the set that gave us the infamous “Toad,” explored the set that gave us the insane “Lysandre’s Trump Card,” abused Trump Card to the point of banning, and been bewildered by the spectacle of whales at US Nationals. Now we’re nearing the end of our season, going into the World Championships — the most prestigious and competitive event of the year — and a winner will soon be chosen. Each competitive year and format always has its unique nuances, but this has certainly been a roller coaster ride.
Jason Klaczynski proved that Lysandre’s Trump Card needed to be banned at Spring Regionals, and he proved that he could win without the card at the national level as well. With its ban, the format blew wide open with eight entirely different decks making the Top 8 in Indianapolis this year. This leaves us in an interesting spot heading into Worlds because there are so many cards and concepts that have potential! When you have to be prepared for things like Wailord, Klinklang, and even Hippowdon, picking a deck can become quite the difficult task.
I want to try and guide you guys today through my deck choice for Nationals — Night March — and what its position might be like heading into the Worlds metagame. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure my Worlds invitation this year, which I will touch upon more later. With that said, I want to also talk a good amount about the new Ancient Origins set as new sets are always awesome to talk about, so I’m excited to be able to share my ideas on the new cards with you guys.
Nationals Recap: One Win Off
Nationals was already nearly a month ago, but I’d still like to touch on it briefly. I went into the tournament with none other than … Night March! I know — I’m crazy, right? The Crobat hype skyrocketed after Canadian Nationals, and so I was actually pretty nervous about playing it. However, I was convinced that Night March was the best deck in the format with the right list and had the potential to beat almost everything, barring things like Baby Yveltal/Crobat. I had worked incredibly hard on the list, getting it close to perfect, and I was overall most comfortable with the deck over anything else.
Here’s a brief look at how my day went in Indiana, since I feel like Night March can still be a really good play going into Worlds and so you guys can get an idea of what kind of decks I had to play against. (I can’t remember any of my opponents’ names — sorry!)
R1: Landorus/Crobat – W
R2: Toad/Bats – W
R3: Metal/Ray – T
R4: Toad/Bats – W
R5: Yveltal/Garbodor – L
R6: Baby Yveltal/Bats – L
R7: Metal – W
R8: Landorus/Crobat – W
R9: Landorus/Crobat – T
Final Record: 5-2-2
Unfortunately, this record left me one win short of earning my Worlds invitation, but it ended up being okay since finding money to travel would have become the new issue. I was still extremely proud of my record at the end of the day and how I’ve done over the season, so it makes me more excited to try even harder next year to get that coveted invite!
Over the course of the day, I played against a grand total of six Crobat decks out of the nine rounds! I guess I was right to be a little afraid of Crobat and friends, but I knew my list could effectively deal with the cave dweller as long as I played the matchup right. Knowing when to play Joltik and Pumpkaboo onto the Bench and managing Night Marchers correctly proved to be vital, especially when a monster turn from the opponent can clear a whole mess of Night Marchers from the Bench.
The Foundation: Where to Start with Your Night March List
Now one of the things that I love about Night March is its Versatility (literally) with Mew-EX. A single tech Pokémon can go a long way in certain matchups, so I want to cover a skeleton list for the deck and then go into the different cards that you can sub in to assist in whatever matchups you may want to have an advantage over going into Worlds.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 4
Free Spaces: 7
I tested this base extensively, and I truly believe that it has the potential to beat any deck in the format, including Bats decks, with a fast enough start, which is not uncommon by any means for this deck. When a deck can reach 180 damage on Turn 1, you know it is powerful. My list is close to perfect in my eyes, but I know it may seem pretty unusual, so I’ll go over a couple of key cards that make it stand out.
This was one of the major changes that I made to the list, and I was not positive that I wanted to go through with it. In the end, I’m so glad that I did because Lysandre is such a game-winning card. In a deck that can hit for exorbitant amounts of damage, it is huge to be able to target whatever threat is on your opponent’s board. Especially in the case that a deck like this that revolves around Item cards and Shaymin to burn through the deck, you can afford to play a Lysandre on most turns.
Playing a full 3 copies not only gives you that one extra out to bring something like a Shaymin up to win the game, but it also gets it into your hand sooner since you will naturally draw into Lysandre more often. One thing that was troublesome in testing with just 2 Lysandre is when I would desperately want to use it on a specific turn early in the game, but I would have to dig incredibly deep to get it. With 3 copies of the card, it wasn’t unlikely that I could go second, start with a Joltik, attach a DCE, play a Battle Compressor, and Lysandre an opponent’s Shaymin-EX for an easy 2 Prizes on my first turn of the game.
With Shaymin gaining so much popularity and it being such a crucial card in most decks, I knew that I would never really be upset to have a Lysandre in hand. This also safeguards against your opponent trying to play a 7-Prize game. Instead of having to KO a non-Pokémon-EX, you can easily Lysandre around it. Having 3 copies of Lysandre and 4 copies of VS Seeker meant that I could stream Lysandres extremely easily, which is a huge asset for any deck.
This split was something that I got a lot of criticism for, weirdly enough. I know that you may be thinking, “4 Trainers’ Mail is a must so I can get Battle Compressors!” but while Trainers’ Mail is a fantastic card, it can only get you so far. As the name of the card implies, it can only get you Trainers. What if you have all the Dimension Valley, Compressor, and VS Seeker that you could ask for in hand but no DCE? That’s where Acro Bike comes in. After using Battle Compressor to thin the deck at incredible speed, it isn’t out of the question that you’ll be able to use an Acro Bike to dig for a DCE, even if it is only letting you look at 2 cards.
I’ve seen some lists include 4 Trainers’ Mail and no Acro Bike, which I think is crazy. Don’t get me wrong though — Trainers’ Mail is still an awesome card, and it definitely does help get all of the cards that you want out early, but by including these 2 Acro Bike, you get extra depth that Trainers’ Mail couldn’t achieve by itself. Not to mention it also can discard more Night Marchers!
I will admit this was a last-minute cut because I really had no idea how I truly felt about this card. It was a strange conflict between strong theorymon and actual playtesting. In all of my playtesting with the deck, I played conservatively enough that I never once had to use Revive to get an extra Pokémon back; however, what made me want to keep it in so badly was the fear of not having it as a safety net. I thought, “What if all of my Joltik are prized or I get stuck in a weird position where my opponent Knocks Out my last Night Marcher?”
In the end, I thought to myself, “When do all of those things actually happen?” Sure, it is nice to be able to Revive a Mr. Mime when it gets Knocked Out against Landorus/Crobat, but with that reasoning, I’m keeping in a card for a specific matchup in a very specific situation. In reality, I was able to supersede the need for Revive by managing resources effectively.
I decided to take this card out in favor of the basic Energy, as I figured that it would be better to have another basic Energy for against the much more common Aegislash-EX than to have Revive in the rare occasion that I prize every single one of my Joltik or something crazy.
The Finishing: How to Complete Your Night March List
Now with some of my unique aspects of the list covered, let’s go into some different ways that you can tech this extremely versatile deck to get an edge over what you expect to see at Worlds.
Tech Set 1: Empoleon/Archie’s
Effective Against: Landorus/Bats, Toad, Mirror, Aegislash
This is the version of the deck that I ended up going with for US Nationals, and it proved to be worth it because I faced three Landorus/Crobat decks throughout the day, beating two of them 2-0. The Empoleon/Archie’s combo has been lost a bit since the Trump Card ban, but it fits perfectly into Night March’s Item-based engine. This version is very similar to the way that it was run before the Trump Card ban. Shaymin-EX ROS is a new addition since then to get some needed draw power alongside Diving Draw, and now this version functions incredibly against Landorus/Bats.
It is extremely difficult for Landorus/Crobat to deal with an Empoleon both because of its typing and its high HP on a non-EX. Its inclusion also plays into the strategy of attempting to Lysandre every single turn, netting more cards without having to play a draw Supporter. In that same vein, it also helps against Seismitoad-EX, helping out your draw under Item lock considerably if you are able to get it out before your opponent has an opportunity to Quaking Punch.
Finally, you can put quite a beating on Aegislash-EX with Attack Command since it is easier to use without Special Energy than the Night March attack, although the 3 Lysandre allow you to bypass Aegislash-EX a lot of the time anyway.
Tech Set 2: Yveltal/Darkrai
Effective Against: Mirror, Raichu, Aegislash
This is the variant that I came up with when everyone figured that Night March would be the best deck in format, immediately after the Trump Card ban. Night March mirror matches have gotten significantly less common, but that doesn’t mean that this version can’t still put in work.
Yveltal XY’s Oblivion Wing is an incredible attack, accelerating Energy onto the board, dealing a good chunk of damage, and costing only one Energy. Mew can use this attack as well, but the allure mainly comes from Yveltal’s typing, which allows for it to take a knockout on any opposing Joltik or Pumpkaboo without having to use a Double Colorless Energy. It also accelerates a D Energy onto the Bench so that another basic Energy attachment fulfills the same Energy requirement as a DCE but gets past Aegislash’s Mighty Shield.
Darkrai-EX was included as well to give the deck extra mobility and because Night Spear is still a great attack, especially against Raichu/Crobat. With a Muscle Band, you can KO both an Active Shaymin-EX and a Benched Exeggcute PLF, and even better than that, Mew-EX can copy Night Spear for 2 D Energy with a Dimension Valley out. The downside to doing this in the Raichu matchup is that you’ll be playing down extra Pokémon-EX that you may be better off not Benching. The matchup mainly comes down to Double Colorless trade-offs and Lysandres on Pokémon-EX.
Tech Set 3: Virizion/Shaymin
Effective Against: Laser, Toad
This is one of my least favorite versions, but it still does have its merits. Hypnotoxic Laser is going to be bigger once again come Worlds with the rise Seismitoad/Garbodor, and Virizion-EX helps a ton against it. It is extremely annoying for a Pumpkaboo to be Poisoned and then get Knocked Out going into your opponent’s turn because of Virbank City Gym.
Of course, the downside to this is that there will have to be a G Energy attached to whatever you’re attacking with. Not that this is impossible, but it certainly isn’t convenient to do when you just want to attach a Double Colorless and attack. Nevertheless, Verdant Wind is a great Ability that will make your Night Marchers and Mew last a whole lot longer (until Garbotoxin sets in), and Emerald Slash can do a good number on Toad as well, so don’t count this out as a viable option.
Tech Set 4: Seismitoad/Bunnelby
Effective Against: Toad, Wailord, Mirror
This is the newest version of the deck that I have been trying out, but also the least tested. Seismitoad-EX is the king of slowing down games, including games against itself! Being able to Quaking Punch against an opposing Seismitoad deck may buy you enough time to be able to discard enough Night Marchers to turn the matchup into your favor. It can also help against the mirror match, as well as the Raichu/Crobat matchup, as they are both decks that are really crippled from being under Item lock.
Wailord gained so much popularity at Nationals that I just had to try out a Bunnelby. I really don’t mind adding one into the deck because — just like why Trump Card was played in this deck — it is really nice to get Double Colorless Energy back. Similar to Revive, it is a card that acts as a safety net, but it has a much broader scope of what it can get back, and it also safeguards against Wailord.
Finally, the F Energy were added to take advantage of Hammerhead and Spinning Turn. You can add any Energy types that you want, but seeing as Fighting types have the most common 1-Energy attacks and this version doesn’t really have any specific type that it caters to, I figured Fighting would be the best way to go.
Overall, Night March is an incredible deck no matter which way you spin it; it’s a deck that wins games off of Lysandre’ing up Shaymins alone, and while its Raichu and Landorus matchups may seem extremely unfavorable, they are not auto-losses by any means. Pumpkaboo puts in a ton of work against Landorus-EX thanks to its Fighting Resistance, and the Raichu matchup can be taken down by targeting the opponent’s Double Colorless Energy, making them run out before you do.
For those of you headed to the World Championship or the Boston Open, I think Night March is an awesome play that can defeat most anything with its raw strength and speed, but it also has the versatility to amend some of its weaknesses. Watch out for Night March in the coming weeks, otherwise it might surprise you.
Favorite Pokémon from Ancient Origins
Probably like a good chunk of you out there, I will not be attending the World Championship in Boston, so instead what does that leave us to do? Get hyped about the next set! That’s right! I always love going over new sets, so I made sure to include a section like this to help you guys get going when looking where to get started with Ancient Origins. There are a lot of really cool looking cards, so I want to take the time today to highlight some of the Pokémon that I think will have the most potential.
Oh hey look, more Item lock … yay …
In all seriousness though, Vileplume is indeed back and while the Ability is amazing and the card will see play, I don’t think it will be as impactful as it was in the past. It definitely has an extra tool in Forest of Giant Plants, but with Lysandre in the format, Vileplume will have to deal with the problem of it being dragged up to the Active Spot, something that it never had a problem with before. Sure, AZ or Keldeo-EX/Float Stone will have to be played in a deck like this, but we’ll have to wait and see about how effective that truly pans out to be.
I wasn’t too impressed with this card before, but now that Expanded Regionals have been announced, Ariados can be a real threat coupled with Virbank City Gym. You won’t even have to play down a Hypnotoxic Laser — Ariados will just give you a free 30 damage on your opponent’s field. Couple that with Dragalge FLF, and we could have ourselves a serious lock deck. I definitely plan on trying this out with something like Gliscor PHF to achieve a near perfect lock, but there will most likely be a lot of kinks to work out of that strategy.
One of the more hyped cards of the set, M Sceptile was seemingly broken at first. Overall, I don’t think it is all that broken at all. Sure the card is extremely powerful in that it can heal all damage from 2 Pokémon on your field with no drawbacks, but the thing I’m worried about is its damage output. 100 damage is nothing to scoff at, but it certainly doesn’t compare to some of the other cards available. I would like to see this card coupled with Lugia-EX from the new set and Virizion/Genesect in Expanded, but with the incoming Vespiquen and Flareon, I’m not sure how Grass types will thrive.
Probably one of the best cards in the entire set, Vespiquen is a bee-st. Searchable by Level Ball, possessing a no damage-cap attack for a DCE, free retreat, and being a Stage 1 to boot, Vespiquen has everything going right for it. I won’t be surprised to see this as one of the top decks heading into Autumn Regionals, even with the Expanded format throwing more decks into the fray for Vespiquen to compete with.
We’ll most likely see this card coupled with Flareon AOR due to the broad type coverage that it allows, hitting for Weakness on both Seismitoad-EX and a majority of the Grass threats like Sceptile and Virizion/Genesect. An idea that I had is pairing it with Raichu XY to not only utilize Circle Circuit as an alternate attack, but also to use Sky Field to help throw Pokémon in the discard whenever it gets replaced. You can also use Forest of Giant Plants with it as a 1-of so you can bump your own Sky Field to discard cards.
These are some of the coolest Eeveelutions that the game has seen since the 2006 era, and I can’t wait to use them. They essentially make any Stage 1 Pokémon a viable counter to some very popular Weaknesses and are easily splashable in decks that want to take advantage of Stage 1 Pokémon. Not only that, but they also contribute to some cool combos like Flareon and Blacksmith for extra Energy acceleration or Jolteon and Flash Energy to remove Weakness on any Stage 1. Overall, I think these will contribute tremendously to the revival of Stage 1 rush decks, and I can’t wait to use them.
I don’t know why more people haven’t been talking about this card because I am in love with it. Sure it’s a Stage 1, but the effect is ridiculous! Not only do you get to search your deck for a Basic Pokémon and put it onto your Bench, but you also get to accelerate 2 basic Energy from the deck onto it as well, all for only one Energy! With Wally, this could potentially be used on the first turn of the game going second, and I’m sure that is how it will be best used. Overall, I don’t how it will hold up in the format, but it opens up a lot of options when a card with that kind of effect exists.
One of the more fun cards of the set, Gyarados plays off of getting damage onto Benched Magikarp, and boy, can it sure take advantage of it. Full Retaliation does 30 + 30 more damage for each damage counter on each Benched Magikarp meaning that you are just a Team Magma’s Base and 3 Magikarp away from dealing a whopping 210 damage for a DCE on a Stage 1. Factor in that Gyarados also has the Theta Double Ancient Trait and that number can increase to 250 damage with 2 Muscle Bands attached. Sadly, this combo gets completely thwarted by a Golbat PHF or Spinda PRC, but the fact that it exists is still fun in my book.
Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to feel about this card … It seems really good at first glance with Eelektrik NVI, but is it actually? Auto-Paralysis is always a good thing, but what do you do from there? 170 damage as well as Paralysis seems like overkill. Usually, the point of Paralyzing the opponent is locking them into that state, but when you nearly kill them anyway, then what’s the point? Maybe this could work as some lock deck with Ariados AOR, but it seems like a lot to get going for a less than desirable payout.
For some reason, I actually really like this card! Maybe it goes back to the days to Watchlock and Amoonguss PLS, but Mischievous Light can definitely be used by some troll decks, especially when the attack cost is so easy to fulfill. A combination of this card, Red Card and Hooligans Jim & Cas could leave your opponent without a hand entirely! Although I’m not sure what you would do after that … Anyhow, if you can get this card to work, you deserve a gold star in my book.
This is another one of my favorite cards from the set. The first niche to come to mind for this card is in Vengeance-centered decks like Flareon PLF and Vespiquen AOR 10, providing draw power as well as fueling Vengeance; however, think about how this can also combo well with Archie’s and Swampert PRC 36. Swampert was never as superior as Empoleon because you had to have some form of draw power to take advantage of Swampert’s Ability in the first place. With Unown, you can have it sitting on the Bench until you use Diving Search to retrieve any card that you want from the deck.
I am literally featuring this card solely because it is the only Basic Pokémon to have a Theta Stop Ability. Just keep that in mind for when you start to see Shiftry NXD lurking in the shadows of the Expanded format.
Erik Nance did a great job of covering Golurk in his article, and although I’m not exactly sure how this Pokémon will fit into the format either, having five types is incredibly powerful, no doubt. I’m sure someone will find a way to take advantage of this card though as it is a 130 HP Stage 1 Pokémon with a decent attack. We’ll have to wait and find out.
Ah, Hoopa. You’ve kind of gotten lost amidst all of the hype about the other cards from the set. Hoopa is still a great card, providing a Pokémon Collector-type effect available at your fingertips, thanks to Ultra Ball. Pokémon Fan Club also becomes a way to fill an entire bench when you can search out a Shaymin-EX ROS, a Hoopa-EX, and then grab three more Pokémon-EX. I’m sure that this Pokémon will be used in Rayquaza/Sky Field decks and many other EX-centered decks as a way to spew Pokémon onto the field.
For some reason, M Tyranitar has been the recipient of all kinds of hype, and I think I can understand why, but I don’t think it is justified. Sure, M Tyranitar can absolutely destroy any Pokémon in its path when supported by Bats or Forretress FLF, but where does that get you against a non-EX deck? Bats can sure help, but you certainly don’t need to be doing 230+ damage to a 90 HP Pokémon, and Golbat and Crobat can’t help you at all when facing down a M Sceptile with Theta Stop.
Maybe there’s something I’m missing as Tyranitar does have more potential in Expanded with Dark Patch returning, but I just don’t see it being able to live up to the hype that it has generated.
Giratina-EX is the new lock Pokémon of the set, completely shutting your opponent out of a number of things. Giratina’s attack is the first thing that people hype up as it is just so unique in what it locks your opponent out of. Not being able to play a Stadium card or Special Energy or even a Tool can be a real nuisance in a lot of situations. Couple this was Vileplume AOR, and your opponent will find themselves having to execute their strategy with only Pokémon, Supporters, and basic Energy.
The attack cost does seem rather ridiculous, but with Double Dragon Energy, it is incredibly easy to power up, especially if you’re blocking Enhanced Hammer with Vileplume at the same time. Giratina’s Ability is nothing to scoff at either, as it completely safeguards it from any damage done by Mega Pokémon, which have gotten increasingly popular.
I will be testing out this card most likely partnered with Vileplume AOR, or even Aromatisse XY to give the deck mobility as well as being able to switch from a locking attack to an attack like Black Kyurem-EX PLS’s Black Ballista. Fairy Garden can also give every Dragon free retreat with a Double Dragon Energy in play, so this kind of build looks very promising.
Our Mewtwo-EX NXD reprint in disguise, Lugia might even be better than Mewtwo in some ways. Aero Ball is the exact same as X Ball and still an extremely strong move; however, Deep Hurricane is what sets it apart. Whereas Psydrive is an almost entirely useless attack on Mewtwo-EX, Lugia-EX gets Deep Hurricane that can deal out 150 damage as well as discard any Stadium card that is in play.
The Lightning Weakness is actually extremely unfortunate and might singlehandedly cause Mewtwo-EX to be played over this card in Expanded. Lugia is still a great card in my opinion though and can be splashed into most decks utilizing Double Colorless Energy with ease. X Ball has always been a strong attack, and that won’t change even with its name change.
We are finally wrapping up the competitive year, counting down the days to the World Championship, and as all of you are testing out which decks to play, I implore you to once again try out Night March. As Dylan Bryan stated in his article on Night March, the deck underperformed at Nationals. I’m sure this is due to the sheer amount of Crobat that made a showing, but with Night March seeming to fall off everyone’s radar, it is definitely due for a comeback. Like I said before, it is my absolute favorite deck this season, the discussed list is extremely consistent, and it can stand a chance against near anything in the format.
As for those of you that aren’t attending Worlds or the Boston Open, I hope that I was able to give you some starting ground on what decks can be viable and what to potentially pair them with. I’m sure more and more articles will start to be released about Ancient Origins, so I wanted to be able to lay some groundwork for that. All in all, the set looks like it’ll bring a lot to the table, and with the transition to Expanded-only Regionals, the format is due for quite the mixup.
Thanks to everyone for reading! As always, it is a pleasure to write for this awesome website in the community, and thanks to Adam for the opportunity. Hopefully, you guys can utilize this information and take it into consideration when planning your decks for Worlds, the Boston Open, or maybe even Autumn Regionals! Regardless, I wish you luck in all your endeavors. Stay strong, players!
– Andrew Zavala
P.S. Don’t forget to drop a +1 on this article if you enjoyed or go ahead and reach out to me with a comment! I love getting the feedback and will respond to most of the comments, so I can answer any questions that you guys might have. Thanks everyone, and good luck to those at Worlds! I’ll be cheering on the sidelines!
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