Greetings, 6P readers! I’m glad to be back with you today as we stand on the eve of the City Championships season — and the holiday season at large. I’ve always held a special appreciation for City Championships, as they always provide a great time with friends without all the stress (or time commitment) of Regionals. This year ought to be no different, even as the format resembles an indeterminate blob of decks.
As far as I’m concerned, Cities always feature the most interesting metagames of any events throughout the year. From week to week or area to area, so much can change. Last year, Donphan rode its success from Regionals straight into Cities and dominated the first few weeks, only to fall to near irrelevance by the end of the format. This year, with Regionals results being nearly 100% irrelevant to City Championships — Standard City Championships, that is — the door is open much wider for innovation in the early goings.
Why’s that? Simply because there isn’t a well-defined metagame … or even a murkily-defined metagame. There’s nothing at all to go by aside from what’s been written about. Now, even with that said, it’s clear that decks like Vespiquen and Tyrantrum are going to see play — they’re simply the obvious combos in the room. Moreover, they’re easily ported over from their Expanded counterparts. If for no other reason than the player base’s comfort level with these decks, concepts like these will be a huge part of your early Cities experience.
But, of course, the easy and familiar answer isn’t always the best one. Donphan only began to fall from grace last year after things like Yveltal XY/Hard Charm began to crop up. Of course, while that wasn’t a universal process — in my home state of Michigan, Donphan never really fell from grace; in Dallas it was Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF that brought the Elephant to its knees — the general theme of countering the big deck was fairly universal.
What’s this all mean for today’s article? First, I’m going to offer some thoughts on the obvious contenders in the Standard format. Then, we’re going to take a look at some options to counter the heavyweights for the first weekend and beyond.
I’ll apologize in advance to those whose PTOs have chosen to go against the grain: I simply don’t have enough experience with the current Expanded to speak intelligently on the subject. If you want to hit me with any particular questions or ideas for the Expanded format, I’m very happy to address them on the forums, but I won’t do you the disservice of writing unintelligently about it here.
- The Heavyweight Contenders
- BREAKthrough Mid-Cards
- The Counterpunchers
The Heavyweight Contenders
These are the decks that are, without much of a doubt, going to factor into players’ early decision-making processes. Look to see these decks more than anything else during the early parts of the City Championships season.
Pokémon – 27
Trainers – 263 Professor Sycamore
Energy – 7
Before I get into the list, I’d like to first discuss Vespiquen as a deck itself. Quite simply, I don’t believe Vespiquen is viable without a fairly extensive degree of innovation. Unlike in Expanded, there simply isn’t a good way to use basic Energy to attack. Moreover, the lack of Flareon PLF limits the deck to four attackers, which can be a death sentence if Prizes are even a bit poor.
So, there are two separate issues that differentiate this deck from its Expanded counterpart. Obviously, the mere existence of such a difference isn’t a death sentence all its own, as Standard is very “under-powered” in comparison to Expanded. However, it does offer a reason to exercise concern.
- Pro: Doesn’t require use of Supporter. ?
- Pro: Can be used to enable techs like Aegislash-EX or Heatran PHF. ?
- Con: Requires two turns to “fully charge” a Vespiquen (obviously, you can manually attach for the second Energy or have two Bronzong set up, but that’s less likely by late-game). ?
- Con: Bronzong’s Retreat Cost isn’t exactly friendly. ?
- Con: No longer able to take advantage of attackers such as Entei AOR 14. ?
- Pro: Can be used to charge a Vespiquen in one turn. ?
- Pro: Offers the ability to have type advantage with Jolteon, Flareon, or even Vaporeon AOR. ?
- Con: Requires not only the setup of a second Stage 1 (like Bronzong), but also the commitment of a Supporter. ?
- Con: Can be directly countered by an opposing Hex Maniac (whereas Bronzong can “play ahead” by getting set up prior to the turn where the extra Energy is 100% necessary). ?
- Note: Often, an intelligent opponent can take advantage of this package by saving their non-EX attackers, like Raikou BKT, for later in the game when you need to spend your Supporter on a hypothetical Blacksmith, locking you out of the ability to both Lysandre and attack on the same turn. ?
Now, I think it’s obvious that both of these strategies are wrought with flaws. I’m led to support the Bronzong version because it doesn’t require the use of a Supporter, but I don’t think either of the two are really all that good. It’s this predicament that leads me to believe that Vespiquen simply isn’t a great deck in this format. However, if you remember back to September, the “Virbank” Facebook group was flooded with players looking for advice on their Standard Vespiquen lists.
Obviously, some of that will have changed, but between the deck’s Expanded success, prior Standard hype, and status as an obvious combo, it’s safe to say you’ll be seeing this during the early parts of City Championships.
As far as the problem of only having four attackers — there simply isn’t a good answer. I’ve tried all sorts of combinations, including 2 Super Rod, 2 Sacred Ash, 1-of each, Buddy-Buddy Rescue, and more. Nothing seems to work satisfactorily. Simply, combined with the difficulty of 1-shotting things like M Manectric-EX, the combinations of these problems will likely keep Vespiquen away from the top tables in my mind.
I’m obviously rather low on the deck, but in the event I’m wrong — it wouldn’t be the first time — I would like to spend some time explaining a few particular choices made in this list.
Now that we covered a bit about the deck, you’ll recognize that this list is probably a bit different from what you’ve seen recently, but if Vespiquen is to see any degree of success, that’s going to be necessary. Slurpuff is my answer to the anemic levels of draw-power in the Standard format. I don’t really expect to ever set up more than one, but due to the nature of Vespiquen, the line has been made thicker to accommodate extra discards. Swampert is in here to maximize the value of Slurpuff and to give the deck a fighting chance to continue going in the late-game.
As is well-documented, I’m not a fan of Unown AOR, but it’s good here as a 2-of for the “PlusPower” effect. I believe Giovanni’s Scheme is one of the centerpieces to any hopes the deck has for widespread success, as the extra 20 damage via VS Seeker gives it the best chance to hit numbers like 180 and 210 early in the game before Vespiquen themselves are languishing in the discard from being KO’d.
Jirachi XY67 is probably the only other truly noteworthy card in the list. It’s definitely a staple in things like Vespiquen and Night March in this new format, as the utility against Giratina-EX, mirror, and more is simply unparalleled. In matchups where it’s irrelevant, it simply can be discarded for the additional damage. If you haven’t already acquired your copies, you would be advised to do so soon — it ought to be a major player during this Cities Season.
Another draw option is Octillery BKT. I simply chose Slurpuff due to its game state-blind utility and synergy with Swampert. If your heart is truly set on Vespiquen, it would be worth testing both.
Jurassic Park: Tyrantrum/Bronzong
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
This is the deck that loses the least moving from Expanded to Standard. Of course, there’s the not-insignificant loss of Colress, and the major dent of Keldeo-EX, but this deck functions fairly well when simply ported over from Expanded. Aside from that, other than the lackluster existence of Professor Birch’s Observations, the deck functions fairly well.
By definition, that’s going to make it a big threat. As it sits, this is probably my favorite deck heading into the first weekend of Cities. The easy, high damage output is simply unparalleled throughout the rest of the format, and the disruption added by Giratina is significantly valuable. Being immune to Mega Pokémon adds to this deck’s strength against them — Tyrantrum with a Muscle Band already makes a solid dent — and denying Special Energy attachments is extremely valuable in a Standard format largely reliant on them. It’s clear to see that the deck is inherently powerful in a format lacking raw damage.
With that said, I’d like to explain some of the card count choices here:
Bronzor PHF is chosen over Bronzor BKT due to the extra Retreat Cost. I do believe Bronzor BKT’s attack has the potential to be deceptively valuable, as with a Muscle Band it could handle something like a Vespiquen for a final Prize card, but that fringe use probably doesn’t outweigh the value of the lower Retreat Cost.
The 4th Bronzor is included to alleviate the potential issues that come with the inherently poor draw in this format. Your ideal T1 Ultra Ball target is going to be for Shaymin, Tyrantrum/Giratina, or Hoopa for a combination thereof — not Bronzor. When using Birch or Judge, it’s not exactly reasonable to assume that drawing into one of a hypothetical 3 Bronzor on T1 will be effortless. For that reason, I up the odds of drawing into it in the opening hand (or off of a subsequent Supporter) by playing the full set.
Six attackers is just about right in here for both deck space and Bench space. I go back and forth frequently between the 3rd Tyrantrum and 3rd Giratina, but Tyrantrum’s 1HKO ability has simply made it difficult for me to consistently stick with the 3rd Giratina despite its broad range of utility. Additionally, Jirachi XY67 seems to be starting to catch on as a staple, making it even more risky to rely on Giratina as a staple part of our attack.
2 Judge, 2 Professor Birch’s Observations
Both of these are highly mediocre, and I obviously wish these spots were dedicated to cards named N and Colress. As it is, I’ve chosen the even split, but outside of an absolute requirement that at least 1 Judge be played for the hand disruption element, there is liberty to play with this count. I wouldn’t advise 4 Judge, as the option to at least gamble on a shuffle/draw 7 is something good to have. A decision is required between more disruption for the opponent’s hand or more opportunities for the yield of 7. My current feeling is that the even split is the best option, but something this minute is going to take a while to sort out.
I don’t especially care for Hoopa-EX, but it’s a necessary evil in here dealing with the T1 Ultra Ball predicament outlined above. Similarly, 1 Lysandre doesn’t excite me, but it’s also not especially necessary to Lysandre in this deck with 1HKO ability being so present. The 5 “switch outs” in the form of Float Stone and Switch can probably be split either way with little consequence. My preference is to have as many outs to the Tyrantrum-EX recharge as possible, and my list currently reflects that. It may be worthwhile to add more outs to retreat a Bronzong early in a game, particularly if Startling Megaphone begins to take off — something there’s definitely a reasonable chance of.
Notably, the deck is inherently weak to Special Energy hate and Parallel City. The former is likely to be present in the form of Promo Jirachi from Day 1, but I don’t believe Xerosic or Enhanced Hammer are especially likely to take up high-density residence in decklists near you anytime soon — don’t count on high counts of them, if there’s any representation at all. If/when this deck starts making headlines, I would expect that to change.
On the other hand, Parallel City is something that I think could be a significant fixture from the very beginning. Its effect is simply too significant to be completely ignored, and while I’m not advocating for anything drastic like Paint Roller, Parallel City is my single biggest current concern with playing Tyrantrum.
All of the final negativity aside, this is one deck that definitely isn’t going anywhere in the transition from Expanded to Standard. Tyrantrum is definitely a big threat and not something you should ignore heading into the early parts of the Cities season.
This is the exception to my statement above about the decks in this section being seen “without much of a doubt.” I don’t have doubt that someone is going to always play Yveltal-EX no matter how good or bad it is, but I don’t believe its early play will be on the level of the first two. I do believe it has potential to capitalize on a Standard format that has little clarity, as the raw damage output of Evil Ball is something that is never going to qualify as “bad.” Let’s take a look at the list:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
Gallade BKT serves a twofold purpose: a M Manectric-EX counter and a consistency booster. Manectric-EX is one of the cards that seems to ooze potential in this format, and as such, such a counter is a good thing to have. It also serves to help minimize the danger of Magnezone BKT/Raikou BKT, though there will still be a serious degree of luck required to make that matchup winnable. Some specifics:
As we’ve established, I hate Unown. Even with that, it’s simply too good to ignore here. The ability to use Premonition and then immediately draw any of those 5 cards with Farewell Letter is simply one of the best consistency options in the Standard format. They aren’t meant to be spent on random, early draw, but instead to get important resources during the mid-game.
I’m not yet sure how good this is, but it’s an idea I’m testing toss out. In a format so devoid of consistent draw, being able to play a second Supporter in the early going of a game is immensely valuable — something Sableye SF acts as a historical testament to. The question is whether or not the benefit here outweighs the lost Energy acceleration Yveltal XY can offer, and that’s not something that’s going to always be the same. For now, I’m keeping the Sableye for the sake of extra consistency.
Each of these are included as a 3-of to obtain the best of both worlds, but I could easily justify the 4th Acro Bike at the expense of the 3rd Trainers’ Mail. Less so the other way around, as I believe 2 Acro Bike is a bit of a waste, but this could be played with a bit.
Muscle Band is the best way to turn Yveltal and/or Gallade attacks coupled with each other into meaningful damage. With an Oblivion Wing’s 30, a Sensitive Blade’s 130, and Muscle Band’s 20 on either end, the magic 180 can be attained. Furthermore, it’s obvious that Muscle Band is simply great with Yveltal-EX.
The 2nd Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick is obviously not typical, but I thoroughly believe it’s a valuable inclusion in here. Too much deck space is dedicated to Gallade to risk prizing Maxie’s, and as such, the 2nd copy is necessitated. If I were trying to make cuts, I believe the 3rd Acro Bike, 8th Darkness, and 3rd Shaymin are the first 3 cards I’d be taking out.
I believe this deck has promise, but it may take a few weeks to fully realize any sort of potential. Vespiquen intuitively doesn’t seem to be a great matchup for it, and while I believe it to be a poor deck in this format, that’s obviously not a popular opinion. Past that, it doesn’t seem as though Yveltal struggles with all that many decks, and both Manectric- and Giratina-centric decks stand out as potentially strong matchups.
Like the above decks, I believe these are the decks that will appear from Day 1. Consider these the other preeminent threats — the only difference is that these don’t come out of Expanded, but straight out of the new expansion. There’s always a hype for new cards, so they’re sure to appear.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 34
Energy – 11
The spiritual successor to Blastoise, which was the spiritual successor to Emboar, which was the spiritual successor to …
Needless to say, it’s no secret that this strategy has been around since the very beginning. I’m pretty early on in testing this deck, so there’s still some stuff that’s likely to change before I arrive at a list I truly like, but this is where I’m at right now.
Trying to balance deck space, desire for consistency, and the fear of Item lock is difficult in here. I’ve pretty much concluded that the best option is to count on Shaymin and other draw to allow us to trust in the ability to search out a Magnemite in one way or another, but I could easily be swayed to play the 4th. The lone Magneton is to act as insurance against both Item lock and missing the Turn 2 Rare Candy.
I started by only playing 3 Raikou, but quickly realized that the 4th was too valuable to not include. Raikou’s Ability is much underrated. Magnezone-EX can soften up big hitters in matchups like Manectric-EX, but more importantly, it preys on low-HP Basics very well. Bronzor PHF, Combee AOR, Eevee FFI, Joltik PHF, and Zubat PHF are all Basics seeing play that Magnezone can easily take care of.
Even in a matchup like Lucario-EX/Crobat PHF, where it intuitively doesn’t make any sense to play a Fighting-weak EX, it can make sense to do so with Magnezone. If one is able to get a double knockout on Zubat, even if the Lucario player is able to come back with a KO, they will have invested a great degree of resources into the exchange, you will have eliminated 100+ potential damage from your board and stayed even in the Prize exchange. Now: How much can Tyrantrum do while its Bronzors are chilling in the discard pile? Not all that much. Magnezone is very underrated card.
Lugia-EX is another part of your answer to the Lucario matchup, as its Fighting Resistance plays very well. Additionally, it can be good for discarding opposing Parallel City or other troublesome Stadiums; doing 150-170 in the interim isn’t too shabby either.
I would definitely considering adding a 2nd copy of Lugia, but keep in mind that it actually isn’t that much more durable than Raikou: Raikou effectively has 140 HP by virtue of its Ability, with 20 more for each subsequent attack it survives. Few attackers in the game today can hit for 140 but not 170; fewer yet can’t deal 170 damage over the course of two attacks.
Overall, it’s a fairly solid set of options; only missing the pseudo-Black Kyurem-EX PLS “fewer Energy, more damage, at cost of discard” attacker. Lugia’s Deep Hurricane does this to a degree, but it’s also not perfect for the task. Nonetheless, I believe the diversity of options here is enough to make this a viable option on paper.
Energy recovery is paramount to success in a deck like this. Unfortunately, Superior Energy Retrieval is no longer with us, so we’re stuck with this litany of inferior options. Those who’ve been around a while will remember Cities three years ago, when Boundaries Crossed gifted us Blastoise BCR/Keldeo-EX. 4 Energy Retrieval was the choice at that point; it’ll have to suffice again now. Fisherman is an added bonus that wasn’t around during that particular CC series, so one could argue that this suite is better than the one that dominated Cities a few years ago.
However, it’s obvious that Raikou BKT ≠ Keldeo-EX (and damage doesn’t go as far as it used to), so I don’t expect quite that level of performance out of this deck. More Fisherman is unlikely to yield too much additional benefit above the cost of deck space, as it’s much more likely that you’ll be using VS Seeker to use Fisherman than actually using Fisherman itself. In fact, the only reason I’m resolute on playing the 2nd copy is to insure against bad Prizes.
There isn’t much doubt: This list is very light on draw power. Given the lack of attractive draw options, this is somewhat by necessity. Given that this deck is a bit unconventional in simply needing a large supply of Energy once set up, it’s possible to skate by on less mid-game draw. In a way, Energy Retrieval somewhat serve as this deck’s version of Acro Bike/Trainers’ Mail, because the primary need of this deck simply is Energy.
Skyla is another staple from the old days of Blastoise/Keldeo, and it serves very well here as well as well. If I were fitting more Supporters, I’d want it to be Skyla at this point. The ability to grab the Rare Candy, Professor’s Letter, Ultra Ball, etc. to complete the necessary combo is simply to valuable to pass up. Judge steals a spot only because of its usability in disrupting the opponent’s hand.
11 L Energy
Another thing players from a while back will remember is that Blastoise/Keldeo lists during Cities 2012 started running 13, 14, and even 15 Energy. Now, the two decks are obviously different, as we’ve discussed, but it’s something to consider. It simply isn’t viable to look at our Expanded Archie’s lists and expect that same number to work. If I were haphazardly cutting cards, aside from more Skyla, more Energy would be flowing into this list.
Some of you may notice the lack of Pikachu-EX. Unfortunately, the official release date for it isn’t until 11/18, and thus the legality date is 12/9. It’ll definitely be something to consider once it’s legal.
Overall, this is definitely a deck to keep an eye on. The list is rather rigid, and there’s a number of things that I’d love to wiggle in here, but this is where I’m at right now in testing. It should have a very decent Vespiquen matchup, which should make it a solid contender early on, but the inherent Achilles’ heel is certainly Hex Maniac.
Post-Publishment Addendum: Per this page, it looks like Pikachu-EX is going to be legal from the very start of City Championships. In that case, I’d be dropping a Raikou BKT and the Lugia-EX in favor of 2 Pikachu-EX. The unparalleled ability to deal heavy damage is exactly what this deck needs to be competitive, and as such, I definitely am moving it up my proverbial depth chart for a Week 1 spot.
A Psy-Aside: Mewtwo, Mewtwo, Mewtwo
Obviously, Mewtwo was the focus of this set. Interestingly, it’s not seen too much hype at all. I’ve not had a ton of time to experiment with them yet, but I did want to offer some thoughts on the various options that might be possible with them:
It’s Yveltal-EX with more damage potential and more HP. Obviously, it’s not “broken” per se, as evidenced by its costs and general lack of hype, but something with a damage ratio this good seemingly will be good eventually. Some considerations include Fairy/M Mewtwo, Crobat/M Mewtwo, and more. In theory, I believe Crobat and Wobbuffet PHF are the best partners. Wobbuffet serves to slow an opposing setup, and Crobat can make up the damage add up crazily quickly. I don’t have a list, let alone any testing, but it’s something to think about as the format moves into its next phase around Weeks 3/4.
At first glance, this seems fairly sketchy, but after a second look it becomes apparent that this is a strong parallel to Primal Groudon-EX. Obviously, M Mewtwo is lacking the extraordinarily helpful trait of Omega Barrier, but in exchange it earns the ability to hit through Giratina-EX’s Renegade Pulse and the use of Dimension Valley. The most obvious partner is Landorus FFI for Energy acceleration. Giovanni’s Scheme would hypothetically tie in very well here for reaching 220. I’m not sure this has nearly the level of potential as its counterpart, but it’s again something to look into.
Briefly, in either of the above ideas, there’s the following to consider: Damage Change is very good against decks like M Manectric that cannot 1HKO Mewtwo-EX. They’re forced to hit for 110 (or 120), and with some careful play, the Mewtwo player can use Lysandre to start taking knockouts on Shaymin-EX or simply to stall by putting damage on various targets on an opposing field. Something to keep in mind when choosing your basic Mewtwo-EX for either of the aforementioned decks.
These are my current favorite answers to the above decks. Neither of them is likely to beat all of the above all of the time, but if I were playing Cities tomorrow, these would probably be the two I would decide between.
In general, M Manectric-EX seems poised to be strong early because of its durability against Vespiquen and ability to function without the dedication of too terribly many resources. Deck space is also fairly loose, allowing many various techs that other decks simply can’t fit. For that reason, Manectric is where I’ve been looking to in the early stage of this format. Manectric/Pyroar PHF, as featured by Brandon Cantu last week, is another variant that would’ve been in this space had it not already been covered — as it is, our thoughts aren’t different enough to justify my boring you with it.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 39
Energy – 9
I feel this is largely a fairly ordinary, consistent list, with the exception of Assault Vest and the Enhanced Hammer count. Assault Vest has impeccable synergy with Raikou and Rough Seas, as it creates a very difficult monster for opposing players to KO. Raikou’s “real HP,” as I’m dubbing the number, effectively reaches 180 when the attacking Pokémon has any Special Energy attached. Add in Rough Seas? You’ve got one very durable Pokémon.
Enhanced Hammer is largely in answer to my discussion on Tyrantrum above. I strongly believe the best approach to beating Tyrantrum is Special Energy hate, and I’ve experienced fairly decent results against it.
The one final note of particular interest is Flash Energy. This is an effort to help deal with Lucario/Crobat, but it’s admittedly probably a losing battle. I’m not yet sure if they’re in the deck to stay, as Special Energy hate seems unlikely to be going anywhere.
Overall, there really isn’t that much to say about this list. It’s just pure consistency, which is definitely a good trait to have in a format with so little of it. It may end up being too narrow of a deck to see success on a wide scale, but I’m confident taking this into a metagame of Tyrantrum and Vespiquen.
Above, I mentioned Lucario/Crobat as a potential poor matchup for Manectric. Recently, Manectric-EX/Gengar-EX saw some success in Japan. It may sound silly on paper, but it actually makes a lot of sense on further consideration. With a Muscle Band and Giovanni’s Scheme, Gengar-EX OKHO’s Lucario-EX. More importantly, the effect of Poison allows you to circumvent the effect of Focus Sash — critical in both of those matchups. Let’s take a look at a list:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
Undeniably, fitting the Psychic stuff does make consistency harder to achieve. Simply, fitting in the full suite of cards necessary to make Gengar most effective makes fitting the techs from above, like Assault Vest and Enhanced Hammer, impossible.
Playing P Energy allows the inclusion of Wobbuffet for early game locking, for finishing up a KO while locking Abilities, or for promotion after a Dark Corridor. For the lattermost reason, there’s a pair of Float Stone.
Obviously, 4 P Energy can be a tad uncomfortable when relying on it for so much of the attacking strategy, but that’s what Smeargle is for. I’d even consider playing around with a clean 5/5 split if it weren’t for Raikou’s damage output and my fear of Prize cards.
The draw is again a little light, but that’s mostly driven by a lack of options for good draw. The extra Ultra Ball over the last list highlights the complete omission of Trainers’ Mail, which is a decision I came to after considering the lack of space and importance of Ultra Ball for discarding Energy.
Obviously, the list is a little Tool-heavy, but there isn’t a good way of getting around that problem. Cutting the Muscle Bands may be viable, but I do worry about the prospect of relying on Giovanni to 1HKO the various Fighting-type foes. I’d much rather have the comfort of having Muscle Band. It also has utility with Manectric’s Assault Laser and Overrun, hitting magic numbers on opposing Raikou and Golbat respectively.
The Stadium split is awkward at best, but it’s the best way of getting the best of both worlds. I could see even cutting to one Dimension Valley and reserving it for clutch situations, or potentially cutting Valley altogether. My concern is that Gengar’s attack then becomes too cumbersome, and consistently using Wobbuffet’s is nigh impossible. It’s definitely something to play around with in testing.
Overall, I think that about sums up the list. If you have any other pressing questions, feel free to find me in the comments or via PM. With that said, let’s take a look at some potential tech options in here:
As mentioned earlier, this is very good against Manectric and anything else incapable of grabbing the 1HKO. Something to definitely consider in here, as the first attack could have some potential use with Smeargle’s place in the world.
While I was doing some research on lists for my early testing with this deck, a number of Japanese variants I found chose to use M Gengar. Quite honestly, I don’t really know that it achieves anything, but I’m sure there had to be some reason for its inclusion so I feel obligated to mention it. Off of the top of my head, it could be clever for mirrors, since it has greater HP, and for copying Tyrantrum-EX’s attack without it being able to 1HKO you. That’s … about it. I simply don’t know that the benefits outweigh the pains of evolving another Mega in the deck.
I’m sure you’ve noticed throughout the article that I’m no large fan of Ace Trainer. Simply, I would rather play Judge for the added early game disruption, lack of restriction in the early game, and minimal sacrifice of 3 vs 4 cards on their end. The same is true in this deck, but I could justify it more in here than the rest due to the Ability-lock angle of Wobbuffet.
This is a cute tech that probably isn’t any good, but could be considered. As a non-EX, it can easily put your opponent on the odd Prize, so it may be worth considering as a clutch 1-of.
Overall, I believe there’s a very real chance that I look to this deck when it comes time to make choices in a few weeks. It has answers to many of the problems present in the metagame today, and that’s something valuable to be sure. Particularly, I like the ability to counter to Focus Sash — something with good odds of being extraordinarily valuable in the Standard format.
We’ve come again to the City Championships season, and as much as it’s an exciting time of year, it’s also one of the most critical in the pursuit of an invitation to the World Championships. Not only does the tournament circuit continue rotating, but the format within this Cities stage is likely to go through multiple phases as we gain more knowledge on what does and doesn’t work in Standard at large. Uncertainty will be the norm, particularly in the early going, and choosing a deck may not always be an exact science. It will not take long, however, for the prize fighters to feel each other out.
I’ll be at a number of City Championships across the Great Lakes region — perhaps I’ll see you around. In any event, good luck at Cities and a happy holiday season to all!
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