Hello again, SixPrizes! I’m happy to be back with another Underground article. Today, I’d like to update you all on the beginning of my 2015-2016 season. I will also be bringing you an interview with my friend Matt Price, who just placed second at Fort Wayne Regionals this past weekend, about his Seismitoad/Giratina deck that he used to make the finals. Next, I’ll be discussing one of the surprise decks of the Regional Championships: Tyrantrum/Bronzong. And finally, I want to hit on a few cards from the new BREAKthrough set, which is soon to be released.
Déjà Vu: Regionals Recap
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend a Regionals during Week 1, but my play would have been Yveltal were I to go. For Week 2 I attended Lancaster, PA, where I played Toad/Bats. That run didn’t go so well, with me losing to an Yveltal due to dead-draws, a Hydreigon deck (the one that attaches Energy from the discard …), and a speed RayEels deck. I still had a ton of fun that weekend though — thanks to everyone who hung out!
After Evolution-based decks had picked back up in play for Week 2, I saw the perfect opportunity to bring back Archeops. Vespiquen was showing up in a big way, along with Mega Manectric and Mega Rayquaza. Originally I planned on running Yveltal with Archeops, but decided that with Hex Maniac, Wobbuffet, and Garbodor in the format, Yveltal’s inherent weakness to Manectric was too much to handle, and it doesn’t trade very well with Vespiquen either. Therefore, I decided to go back to my classic play — Night March — but this time with the dinosaur bird.
Now, I’ve done a lot of writing about Night March by now, so I don’t think I should spend too much time on that in this article. You can check out my other adventures with Pumpkaboo and friends here, here, and here. I’ll just do a short tournament recap and give my list for anyone curious.
Pokémon – 19
4 Lampent PHF
Trainers – 34
4 VS Seeker
Energy – 7
4 Double Colorless
I started off Day 1 very well, going 4-0 to begin the tournament. My first four rounds were against Groudon, Yveltal, Donphan, and Vespiquen. Those are all good matchups for Night March with the exception of Groudon. Donphan is tough, because even though Archeops helps you out by preventing Phanpy from evolving, they usually play multiple Wobbuffet that they can promote to circumvent your strategy after either being Knocked Out or using Spinning Turn. I won this series because my opponent had a deck-list error giving him a Game 1 loss. I lost a very close Game 2 and won the third game narrowly due to a T1 Archeops and a slow start from my opponent.
The tournament took a bit of a dive for me from there as I lost the next two rounds, first to a Seismitoad/Giratina deck and then to a speed Mega Rayquaza deck. Giratina is extremely tough for Night March to deal with. If they are able to attack with Giratina — which shuts off your ability to play DCE and Dimension Valley — you are left with no way to attack other than to use a Mew or a Joltik with two basic Energy attached. My opponent also played Crushing and Enhanced Hammers, so keeping up attachments was very difficult throughout the series, which ended up being very close. My second loss was because it’s just so difficult to KO Mega Ray, and they can just Sky Return your Joltik with a Shaymin, promoting something useless like an Egg to return the KO easily while forcing you to either have Lysandre in hand or take a useless Prize. At one point during the game, I did use Mew to Emerald Break a Mega Ray for the knockout, which was kind of funny.
After those two losses I was 4-2 and had to win out to make Day 2. For the rest of my rounds I played against two more Yveltal and another speed Mega Ray. I ended up winning those games and finishing Day 1 as 10th seed. (I believe? Something like that.) Winning my last game on stream was a really fun experience, and I’m glad to have had that opportunity.
For Day 2 there was obviously no changing of decks this year, although there were a few things I wished I did differently. I should have played an Escape Rope and Hex Maniac instead of Archeops altogether. While I think that Archeops was a good idea in theory, it didn’t make enough of a difference to warrant play. Most of my games I didn’t even bother to go for it. I lost Round 10 to Dylan Bryan’s Vespiquen. The reason Archeops did not help me in this series was primarily because I was unable to get it out, but I think I had a good shot at losing even if I had. Dylan played a Wobbuffet and Life Dew in addition to Hex Maniac. All he had to do was have one turn with Wobbuffet in the Active and evolve two or three Vespiquen on the Bench. Life Dew also puts the Prize trade squarely in his favor.
Another change that I should’ve made was playing P Energy instead of L Energy. We didn’t think of this before the tournament, but if you play Psychic, you can use Pumpkaboo’s attack to KO Joltik in the mirror, and that way your opponent can’t return the KO using Shaymin’s attack. It also allows you to use Wobbuffet’s attack, copy opposing Tool Drop attacks, and also play the Shuppet with Bleh if you wanted to.
The next round I think was the one that I played on stream. It was against another Giratina deck, and my opponent had also just played versus my teammate with a very similar list to mine. This time it was Giratina/Bronzong, so theoretically Archeops could help me here even though Giratina is difficult for Night March. In the first game, I was going second and had the Archeops in hand on the first turn, but he played a Hex Maniac on his first turn, and I was unable to use Jirachi for Maxie’s and had to discard my hand. That game went terribly and I lost. The second game I got a bit luckier and managed to get really close to the win despite the poor matchup. I had Mew active and he played Hex Maniac so I couldn’t attack with it. I had to Juniper and hit Float Stone + DCE + Joltik out of about 10 or so cards to win. I did, attached the Tool to Mew, benched Joltik, and attached DCE. I went to retreat Mew and my opponent went to pick up his Prizes. I also started to take mine and pick up my cards thinking we would quickly go to Game 3. My opponent misunderstood and thought I was not attacking and scooping the game.
The fault is definitely on me for not completing the game action. I shouldn’t have assumed that my opponent knew my intentions or that I knew his. I love this game, but I’m still new to card games and competitive sports in general, and playing under pressure is something I’m not very used to. Playing on stream is very disorienting, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse.
I’m still learning at every event and growing as a player, and I need to work on being patient, thorough, and doing everything by the book. This is something I can focus on in playtesting, and I plan on doing so in the future. I would never claim to be perfect or even good, so I’m really grateful to everyone who supports and is there for me!
After that loss I knew I couldn’t make it to Top 8, but I kept playing for Top 16. I was dismayed to see that I was playing the mirror against my friend Jimmy Pendarvis. I lost to him, then scooped the rest of my games since I was out of everything but Top 32.
Something I find funny is that this season so far has exactly mirrored my last one. I didn’t make Day 2 at Pennsylvania Regionals either year. I ended Day 1 of Indiana Regionals at like 10th seed both years, and then I completely failed on the second day. Haha — life is weird!
Matt with Two T’s: Interview with the Runner-Up
This weekend we saw Frank Diaz take home the title of Regional Champion on stream; an impressive follow up to his second-place finish in Lancaster, PA Week 1. Frank is clearly a master of Yveltal at this point, but what about his opponent in the finals of Ft. Wayne? Who is that kid?
I’ve known Matt for a couple of years now, so I thought I would ask him to introduce himself. He was generous enough to share his list and give me a great interview.
Nicholena: Tell us about yourself!
Matt: My name is Matt Price. I’m 20 years old, playing in Masters. I’ve been playing since Next Destinies was released, so about 3 or 4 years now. I use to play way back when Delta Species came out, but fell out of the game when my local League closed along with the shop we played in. One day, I decided to buy a pack of cards from Target and quickly became hooked on collecting. Eventually I did some research on Leagues in my area when I remembered how I used to go to them. I found out there was one less than five minutes from my house and decided to go. I quickly became friends with Nicholas Bailey who also went to my League at the time, and when he told me about how he went to a Regionals one weekend, I figured I’d give competitive play a chance. Needless to say I’ve been hooked ever since. Nick has been my role model and inspiration for a lot of the decks and successes I’ve had as a player. I gotta thank him for never letting me give up on the game and pushing me to succeed.
My first competitive deck was 6 Corners, which I played at a Battle Roads in the spring that I started playing. I found it while searching for decks online and immediately fell in love. It was complicated and difficult to play, but had a lot of options to beat my opponents. I failed to place after I lost my lost round to get into the Top 4, but I had a lot of fun playing that day. I didn’t really play super competitively until the following spring. I just had fun traveling with my new friends and playing the game. I started taking the game more seriously when the Plasma sets came out and played TDK for the better part of the spring at that Nationals.
Generally, I like to play decks where I have a lot of options. I feel that the more options that I have, the better my chances of beating my opponent are.
I think my favorite deck of all time was when I played Flareon for most of Cities 2013-14. I had the most success with that deck than anything else I had played, and it was a lot of fun! I began to find out that I had the most fun playing lock-based decks than anything else. I had a lot of success with decks such as Gothitelle/Accelgor, Darkrai/Garbodor, Pyroar and, as of this last weekend, Giratina/Seismitoad. I feel that lock decks require a lot of skill to pull off and are the most rewarding when you do well with them. Speed/aggro decks are probably my least favorite to play. I honestly can’t keep up with them sometimes and they cause me to go on tilt a lot when I play them. I tried to play Yveltal and TDK, but they never felt fun and I never did well with them. I did have some success with speed Rayquaza at Lancaster Regionals the other week, going 6-2-1 and placing 38th. It was fun, and I could have made Day 2 if I had slowed down a little more.
Nicholena: Why did you decide to play this deck?
Matt: Honestly, I was convinced that Giratina/Seismitoad was the best play going into Fort Wayne Regionals. I figured that Manectric/Garbodor would be a hot play along with Vespiquen and Night March based off of what I saw at Lancaster. I also thought that Blastoise would barely be present, the deck’s worst matchup. The only concern I had was the mirror and Yveltal. I had no idea how to play the mirror, and Yveltal is an unfavorable matchup if they play enough baby Yveltal. The deck loses to pretty much anything with Energy acceleration because you can’t slow it down enough to keep Energy off the board. Head Ringers can’t be used to slow down Keldeo, Yveltal can keep attaching Energy and attack for more damage, so it doesn’t care about Head Ringer either. But I felt comfortable about every other matchup and decided that there wouldn’t be a lot of Yveltal running around. Funnily enough, the two losses I had in Swiss were against Yveltal and one of those players was Frank Diaz himself. Overall, I was confident the deck would take me places.
Nicholena: Where did you get the idea from?
Matt: There was that one European tournament (sorry I don’t remember which one) where it either won or did very well. I took that list, adjusted a few things and decided it could be a viable option. I try to be creative with my decks in some way or another, like putting in a weird card no one expects to see or some sort of tech to help out a certain matchup. Weird stuff can confuse players and put them on tilt more easily. However, Giratina/Seismitoad was one of those decks where you can’t do much to make it special. I saw players playing Mewtwo-EX and even Rock Guard, but those just seemed like underwhelming or inconsistent choices to me. I kept it simple (maybe too simple) and just went in with the most standard list minus a few things here and there. After seeing Week 1 results, I shied away from the deck, only to return to it for Fort Wayne. I think I did okay overall.
Nicholena: How did it work for you Day 1? Day 2?
Matt: It went really well for me both days. My only losses the first day were to Yveltal. The second Yveltal I played in the later rounds was just an atrocious match. I started Keldeo and dead-drew both games. However, every other match went very well. I played a wide variety of stuff Day 1 such as Vespiquen, Yveltal, Manectric/Garbodor, Plasma, Trevenant/Accelgor, and Speed Rayquaza. I felt like my deck was drawing poorly for the most part of the day and was a real concern for me going into Day 2.
Day 2 went infinitely better. I beat Landorus/Crobat, Yveltal, Vespiquen, and Seismitoad/Crobat for a spot in Top 8 only losing to the mirror. I played the mirror again in Top 8, Night March in Top 4 and you all know how the finals went.
Nicholena: Is there anything you would change in hindsight?
Matt: I think my list was solid enough for the day. If I were to change anything, I might consider playing a Dowsing Machine over Computer Search since I play lower counts of some things. Also, I would consider putting in an AZ or a Shadow Triad to make some matchups better, but overall, I like my list and wouldn’t necessarily change anything. I’m also really bad at being conscientious about time while I play. I usually wear a watch, but I usually forget to keep track of time during my rounds. It would have helped me not to tie during Day 1 and maybe even with the finals. There are just little things that I don’t completely remember to do sometimes that would be beneficial overall.
Oh, and maybe play that Super Scoop Up.
Nicholena: How did you feel about the matchup with Frank going into the Finals?
Matt: Saying Frank is a good player is an understatement. Playing against Frank in both days were the most stressful games I had played in a long time. He is a very smart player who is clearly seasoned and knows what he’s doing. I knew that the matchup wasn’t good for me (I place it at about 60-40 in Yvetal’s favor) and that I was going to have to play extremely well to pull out a W. That being said, I didn’t feel nervous at all during our finals match. I knew exactly what I was going up against having played him Day 1, I figured it was going to be rough so I kept my cool, and I knew it was winnable. I had never top cut a big event like this before, so I was excited, but I knew I needed to keep my composure. The moment I started to get anxious or nervous would be the moment I threw myself on tilt.
Several people had given me the same advice before I played in Top 32 (thanks Mom): Treat each match as the first one and take each game one at a time. If I got caught up in the next game or the next turn, I knew I would mess up somewhere along the line. I did my best to keep cool and collected. Plus, I didn’t want Virbank to make any terrible memes out of me, so I tried to stay straight faced.
Overall, I did a good job at it, but slipped up a few times and got either cocky or nervous which led to key moments in the finals where Frank was able to come back. It was one of the most fun matches I had ever played and was happy I had another chance to play Frank. He’s a good guy and a great player. People have been saying that they enjoyed watching, so I’m glad I could make it at least close!
Nicholena: How about those Sleep flips???
Matt: Ah yes. Those Sleep flips. It was very difficult to watch a Regionals win slip away due to a coin flip, but it’s a part of the game, so I can’t be too mad. I got very lucky on some crucial flips throughout the whole series and I guess I used all my luck on those haha. It was heartbreaking, I will admit, when I flipped tails during the match. It threw me off a little bit. A few good burns and jokes came out of it, and at the end of the day it was just unlucky. I feel like it was more exciting with the tails anyway.
Nicholena: Tell us about your deck-making process!
Matt: Whenever I make a deck, I always follow the same pattern. First, I pick what I want the focus of the deck to be. Usually it’s a Pokémon, but sometimes it’s a Supporter or something else. Next, I figure out its weaknesses and strengths and see what compliments it the best. Again, it’s usually a Pokémon, but it could be something like Hex Maniac or Xerosic. Then I build a quick list of what I would want to be in the deck ideally and solitaire a few opening hands to see how consistent of a good start I get. If it’s low, I redo the entire list to add in more outs to things like Supporters and Pokémon. If it is consistently getting me the start I want, I’ll play it against an actual deck to see how it performs. Usually I start with a bad matchup to see how it holds up.
Personally, I think that if a deck can’t get to at least 50-50 in a majority of matchups, then it isn’t worth playing. Giratina/Seismitoad, for example, has a few bad matchups, but the games are pretty close still and its good matchups outweigh the few bad ones. Once I get a consistent list that can perform against most other decks, I think about what kind of meta I will see at an event. From there, I adjust the deck to suit the meta while also retaining the consistency I had already achieved. I also play a lot on PTCGO because I can have different versions of the same deck readily available to try and see how they perform.
I don’t do much special in deck building, but like I said earlier, I do like using cards that people don’t expect because it really can throw them for a loop when you play it, putting the match in your favor.
Nicholena: Do you think your deck from this weekend will continue to be good?
Matt: In Standard, I don’t think the deck will perform all that well. It loses really important cards like Keldeo, Float Stone (for now at least), and, most importantly, the LaserBank combo that really gives Seismitoad the extra oomph it needs to do a lot of damage. To me as of now, Seismitoad is pretty mediocre in Standard, especially without Hypnotoxic Laser.
In Expanded, I think the deck will still be good. It does a good job at what it’s supposed to do: Shut down your opponent. As long as Energy acceleration doesn’t become very popular, this deck will continue to be a good choice in Expanded events. It may even gain new assets in the future. It could also gain a lot of counters keeping it from doing well. We’ll have to wait and see but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a decent choice later on down the road.
Thanks for doing this interview with me! It was a lot of fun. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store.
Nicholena: Neither can we, Matt. Hopefully we will be hearing from you more this season and congrats on second!
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 44
4 Professor Juniper
4 Ultra Ball
Energy – 7
Okay, so let’s talk about Matt’s list.
3 Seismitoad-EX, 2 Giratina-EX
These cards are the two most annoying Pokémon in the game right now (#sorrynotsorry). From what I can tell the general game plan of this deck is to lock your opponent out of early game setup cards like Trainers’ Mail, VS Seeker, Dark Patch, etc. with Seismitoad while removing Energy with Crushing Hammers and Enhanced Hammers. Then, later in the game, start swinging with Giratina, continuing to prevent Energy drops while doing more damage. The rest of the Pokémon line is pretty standard and self-explanatory: Hoopa gets your team set up, Keldeo gets you out of Poison damage, and Shaymin helps you draw cards.
1 Ghetsis, 1 Lysandre, 1 Hex Maniac, 1 Xerosic
Like Matt said, he likes to have options. This Supporter line certainly gives him a lot of options. I personally really like Ghetsis in Toad decks, as your opponent is likely to have a hand full of unusable Items, which you can then put back into his or her deck to let them draw again. How nice!
4 Hypnotoxic Laser, 3 Super Scoop Up, 3 Head Ringer, 3 Crushing Hammer, 2 Enhanced Hammer
To go along with the most annoying Pokémon in the format, we have to include the most annoying Trainer cards in the format. The point of all these cards is to make it difficult for your opponent to get set up and get their deck rolling while denying them Prizes on your side.
3 Double Dragon, 3 Double Colorless
This deck only plays Special Energy, which is a very exploitable weakness. This makes me wonder what the mirror is like. I would think that basically whoever attacks with Giratina first wins, right? It also makes me think that if this deck becomes popular, Night March or Tool Drop with Shuppet will be a good play.
Since we are talking about Dragon Pokémon, why not discuss the deck that I lost to? Heh. Here’s what I think a list should look like, based on the one that won Vancouver Regionals.
Pokémon – 17
4 Bronzor PHF
2 Shaymin-EX ROS
Trainers – 31
3 Battle Compressor
Energy – 12
2 Giratina-EX, 2 Aegislash-EX
These guys are a really tough combo to deal with, because either you start off with Giratina — denying Special Energy attachments to your opponent — or you start by forcing them to use their basic Energies up dealing with Aegislash. It really works flipped the other way around as well.
This guy does a whopping 190, which is enough to 1HKO almost anything in the format. With Muscle Band, he even KOs Mega Manectric. His Weakness isn’t very exploitable, allowing him to fly up under the radar to see great success recently.
The rest of the deck doesn’t require too much explanation. You have your usual setup suspects like we discussed in Matt’s deck, your toolbox of Supporters to achieve different goals throughout the game, and Bronzong to accelerate Energy to your rather high-cost attackers. The whole thing looks bulky but actually has a lot of synergy in practice. It’s solid and easy to set up, and has several solutions to popular threats in the format.
Gimme a BREAK: Initial Thoughts on the New Set
I haven’t had a ton of time to look at BREAKthrough — not enough to figure out any decks yet. But I do want to make a list of cards that I think have potential on my first look (in no particular order):
This card is just so cool, in my opinion. It introduces a more complex mechanic to Stadiums, which I find really interesting. It seems like it would go particularly well in Giratina decks, since it can’t be countered. Limiting the opponent’s Bench to three should make a big impact, given how important Shaymin is for draw. Only having three Benched Pokémon to work with would be very frustrating for any deck.
Marowak // Spoiler
At first glance, Marowak might look like a worse version of Donphan PLS. It has less HP and no access to Wreck. However, you could play the BREAK version as well, letting you get a 1HKO on an EX in a similar fashion to Wreck later in the game. Another bonus to Marowak is its attack has an extra 20 base damage, but a drawback is that that Marowak only returns to the Bench if the opponent’s Active is a Pokémon-EX. Its snipe attack could be useful too, however.
M Mewtwo-EX (Psychic Infinity) // Spoiler
This is basically Mewtwo with more Hit Points and a slightly higher damage output, except that its attack isn’t affected by Weakness. It’s still very powerful, and it might not be good right now, but maybe in the future? I could see it being played in Standard.
This probably would also only be good in the Standard format, but it’s like a Bianca that also has the potential to be a double PlusPower instead. With more non-Supporter-based draw options now available to us, this card could see some play.
We’re getting new copies of Float Stone, Judge, Dodrio UD (same Ability), and Fisherman, which is pretty awesome. I’m a fan of all of these cards for sure, and they will definitely have their place in probably both Standard and Expanded decks.
Hopefully my season doesn’t continue to mirror the last one so closely, because that would get boring! Let’s see what the rest of the year has in store. Thanks as always for reading and I’ll see you soon!
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