Opening Weekend

What to Expect, My Week 1 Picks, and Quick Tips for Cities Success

Hey there 6p readers. It feels like I just wrote an article, but I’m back today with a more refined look at what we can expect at the all-important City Championships. Cities start this weekend, and whether you’re playing Standard or Expanded, there’s a lot to think about when choosing your deck.

In the last month, I’ve spent a lot of time testing out new ideas and decks. I’ll start this article off by going over a list of decks that we can expect to see come opening weekend of Cities. To follow that up, I’ll walk you through my personal favorites for Week 1. Finally, I’ll discuss some quick tips to keep in mind while enduring the long stretch of City Championships.

What to Expect

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Night March is still ticking.

In no particular order, here is a list of decks that I expect to see the most of come Week 1:

Standard Format

The XY-on rotation is still relatively fresh, and consequently we’re sure to see a lot of variance. However, right off the bat, I expect that we will see a lot of Night March, Vespiquen, and Tyrantrum. Night March and Vespiquen are always crowd favorites, as they are cheap to build and relatively easy to play. Tyrantrum on the other hand is a little more difficult to pilot, but people will likely be attracted to it because of its success at the Fall Regional Championships.

Expanded Format

Obviously, because of the size of the card pool, Expanded is even more wide open. However, because of Regionals, we have a better idea of what to expect. With the introduction of the promo Jirachi, decks like Night March and Vespiquen finally have a solid answer to their nemesis Seismitoad, so I expect those decks to continue to see success. Manectric has a more powerful partner in Tool Drop Trubbish in the Expanded format as opposed to Regice. This also gives you the option to include Garbodor, which is never a bad option to have. Tyrantrum does suffer from the inclusion of Jirachi, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to keep it down. Yveltal has more room for success in Expanded because of the existence of Darkrai-EX as well as Hypnotoxic Laser to beef up its damage output.

Standard Picks

Trevenant/Gengar-EX

Pokémon – 13

4 Phantump XY

4 Trevenant XY

3 Gengar-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Sycamore

4 Judge

4 Wally

2 Lysandre

 

4 VS Seeker

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Float Stone

4 Ultra Ball

3 Muscle Band

1 Startling Megaphone

 

3 Silent Lab

Energy – 10

4 Mystery

4 Double Colorless

2 P

As I did more testing and I learned more about the metagame, I found that this deck could definitely be a serious contender for Cities. You can see that I’ve only made two changes since I last wrote:

I found that 3 Shaymin was too much, as you are running Silent Lab in your deck. The Startling Megaphone is a good resource to have, but especially in a Trevenant deck. Being able to strip your opponent of Tool cards and prevent them from playing new ones is very strong. This is especially useful against decks like Tyrantrum that rely on Float Stone to retreat Bronzong.

I also found that Ace Trainer was not very useful, as it is unplayable if you are tied or ahead on Prizes. I increased the Silent Lab count to 3 simply because of how strong it is in combination with Item lock. As if Shaymin-EX wasn’t already hard enough to use under Item lock, Silent Lab ensures that your opponent won’t be drawing any extra cards. Additionally, Silent Lab is helpful against cards like Aegislash-EX. If I could find space for a 4th I would certainly include it.

Matchups

trevenant xy 55
Night March and Vespiquen are stumped by this deck.

As far as matchups go, this deck seems like it will be quite well positioned in the metagame. Night March and Vespiquen decks are a piece of cake if you’re able to pull off your turn one Wally for Trevenant. The only way in which the Battle Compressor-reliant decks can win is if they go first and are able to go off with Battle Compressors and their other powerful Items such as Trainers’ Mail and Acro Bike.

The Tyrantrum matchup can be tricky because they run Giratina-EX. This deck unfortunately relies heavily on Special Energy, so a quick Chaos Wheel could cause problems. However, if you get a quick Gengar set up with Trevenant, your opponent will struggle to set up and you should be able to lock them out of the game.

The Magnezone/Raikou matchup is one that I admittedly haven’t had the time to test too much, but because of their reliance on Rare Candy to bring Magnezone into play, I’d imagine the matchup is quite favorable. The only way in which I see a problem arising in the matchup would be if you miss your turn one Trevenant playing second and they are able to Rare Candy on their second turn. This reminds me a lot of the Gothitelle vs Blastoise matchup from a while back. Whoever got their Evolution out first generally won. This time around however, our Evolution is a Stage 1 and can be brought into play on the first turn via Supporter card while our opponent still needs to use the old-fashioned Rare Candy route.

Manectric decks give Trevenant/Gengar issues, as M Manectric sports a whopping 210 HP and has the healing option provided by Rough Seas. Even with Muscle Band and Poison, Gengar’s Dark Corridor only deals 90 damage. Our opponent will then use their Rough Seas to heal to 60. More troubling though is the fact that they will likely retreat to a fresh Manectric, not only clearing the Poison, but also keeping the damaged one safe on the Bench and free to abuse Rough Seas. This along with Regice’s Resistance Blizzard will make this matchup very difficult to win.

The Mienshao matchup is very favorable for this deck. Their entire strategy revolves around them using Focus Sash to stay alive and bouncing back to the hand each turn. Unfortunately for our opponent, Trevenant stops Focus Sash from being played at all. If that’s not enough, Gengar is able to 1HKO any Pokémon in our opponent’s deck thanks to type advantage. And to top it off, even if our opponent is able to get a Focus Sash or two into play before we establish our lock, the Poison dealt by Gengar plays around Focus Sash.

M Sceptile-EX/Ariados

Pokémon – 15

4 Sceptile-EX AOR

3 M Sceptile-EX

2 Spinarak AOR

2 Ariados AOR

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Hoopa-EX

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Lysandre

1 Professor Birch’s Observations

1 Judge

1 Hex Maniac

 

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Sceptile Spirit Link

4 Ultra Ball

4 Energy Retrieval

4 VS Seeker

2 Mega Turbo

 

4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 10

10 G

This is a deck that I’ve put a lot of testing into in the past few weeks, and it’s starting to pick up some steam in the metagame. The idea is to get 2 M Sceptile-EX set up and bounce between them while healing them with Jagged Saber. One interesting thing you may notice about the list is the maxed out count of Energy Retrieval. Most lists opt to play just 1 or 2, but I’ve found the card to be crucial enough to warrant 4. My reasoning for this is that once you’ve set up 2 Sceptile, it effectively acts as a Max Potion. You can retreat your Active Sceptile into your healthy one on the Bench, use the Energy Retrieval to get those two Energies back, and use Jagged Saber to heal your damaged Sceptile.

Matchups

sceptile-ex-ancient-origins-aor-84
They won’t know what hit them. (Unseen Claw)

In my opinion, Sceptile is another deck that is well positioned right now. Night March struggles to 1HKO Sceptile. In fact, they’ll need all of their Night Marchers in the discard pile, barring a Muscle Band. Because of this, we can utilize our strategy of bouncing between Sceptiles and continue to heal them. Addtionally, Night March is fairly reliant on Shaymin, so this means we can use Ariados to pick up easy Prizes with Lysandre.

Vespiquen is one of the deck’s worst matchups, so long as the opponent is running Flareon. Without Flareon, they find the same issue as Night March, struggling to score 1HKOs. And it seems more recently that the Flareon and Blacksmith package is being cut from lists for Bronzong and M Energies.

Tyrantrum is also another Pokémon that cannot 1HKO Sceptile, as it comes just 10 damage short with a Muscle Band. Giratina-EX can cause some problems because of its Ability, but we have ways to deal with this. The first is to just use Hex Maniac to shut off Renegade Pulse all together. The other is to use Sceptile-EX’s Unseen Claw in tandem with Ariados to KO Giratina in two hits.

Our Magnezone matchup is a bit difficult, as they are able to pump out solid damage fairly quickly and we are unable to 1HKO Raikou. While we are able to heal every turn, we will eventually run out of resources because of how long it takes us to get through even just one Raikou.

The Manectric matchup is favorable, unless they include Regice. We don’t really have a good answer to Resistance Blizzard in this list, but if you expect a lot of Regice to show up, you can tech in either a Virizion AOR or a Regigigas PHF. Of the two, I personally prefer Regigigas because of its higher HP. Additionally, Virizion only is able to put out significant damage when you are behind on prizes. The only other advantage Virizion offers is that its first attack retrieves 2 Pokémon from your discard pile to your hand.

Mienshao is a fantastic matchup for Sceptile, as Ariados plays around Focus Sash.

Expanded Pick

Magnezone/Raikou

Pokémon – 16

4 Magnemite BKT 51

1 Magneton BKT

3 Magnezone BKT

1 Magnezone PLS 46

3 Raikou BKT

2 Pikachu-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Skyla

2 Lysandre

1 Team Flare Grunt

1 Hex Maniac

1 Xerosic

1 Fisherman

1 AZ

 

4 VS Seeker

4 Rare Candy

4 Ultra Ball

3 Superior Energy Retrieval

2 Float Stone

1 Computer Search

Energy – 10

10 L

This is a familiar deck from the Standard format, but with an added twist for Expanded. I chose to include a copy of the Plasma Storm Magnezone that allows you to play 2 Supporter cards per turn. This allows us to play a lot of powerful Supporter cards that we would otherwise not be able to play. As far as attackers go, we have Raikou as a solid non-EX that can put out an impressive amount of damage, and Pikachu for a 1HKO option.

Matchups

magnezone breakthrough bkt 54
Magnezone can pull its own weight in the Expanded format.

I’ve put a decent amount of testing into this deck, but I’m unsure how well it will fit into the Expanded metagame because of the lack of tournaments in the BLW-BKT format.

Night March seems to be a solid matchup, as we have Raikou to trade cleanly with Night Marchers. Additionally, we have the PLS Magnezone that allows us to play either a Sycamore or a Skyla to find Lysandre and play it in the same turn. This is useful to pick off opposing Shaymins for cheap Prizes. The Vespiquen matchup goes similarly, where we aim to pick off Shaymins continuously.

Item lock matchups like Seismitoad and Trevenant are difficult, as we are very reliant on Rare Candy to set up. However, if you’re expecting a lot of Item lock in your local metagame, you can try including either a second Magneton or a Jirachi XY67 to give yourself a better chance.

Manectric variants are decent matchups, unless our opponent opts to include Garbodor. Most lists these days seem to favor Regice, but we have seen some hype for Manectric/Tool Drop Trubbish, which often includes a Garbodor or two. That aside, both Pikachu and Raikou are strong against M Manectric.

Tyrantrum in my opinion is another favorable matchup, as Pikachu is able to take care of Tyrantrum in one hit, and Giratina has no advantage over us as we don’t run Special Energy.

Obviously Yveltal is a great matchup for us, simply because of type advantage. Players are starting to tech in Gallade BKT and Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick, but I believe between Pikachu’s 1HKO potential and the ability to load up a big Raikou, Gallade shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

And finally, the Blastoise matchup seems like it would be close, but think of it this way. They have Keldeo-EX, but we have Raikou, who trades favorably with Keldeo.

Quick Tips for Cities Success

ash-ketchum-burnt-out-640-16-9pokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
Keep pace — don’t burn yourself out!

Here are some quick tips that I’ve learned over the many years I’ve been playing, and hopefully you keep them in mind when making your journey through Cities this year.

Stay consistent.

This may seem obvious, but at the end of the day, consistency is king. Some players subscribe to the school of thought that you can afford to cut some consistency cards for techs, but from my experience, keeping things consistent is the way to go. Cities may be smaller than major events like Regionals or Nationals, but some Cities can have as many as 6 or 7 rounds with a Top 8. It’s more reasonable to go tech if your local event is only going to have 3 or 4 rounds, but most of the Cities I attend are fairly large.

Pick a deck and stick with it.

In my experience at Cities, I tend to do best when I find a deck that works for me and ride it out. For example, last season, I piloted Donphan at my first eight Cities before it finally got countered by Yveltal with Hard Charms. And of those events, I was able to make top cut in seven of them. That’s not to say that switching decks is a bad choice depending on your local metagame, but if you find yourself on a roll with one deck, stick with it!

Don’t burn yourself out.

While it may be tempting to try to attend every event possible to maximize your chances of getting Championship Points, you don’t want to wear yourself down. Last year, I attended a whopping 20 Cities, and I can say with certainty that I was not playing my best game by the end of the Cities cycle. Particularly after hitting nine events straight at the Georgia Marathon, it would have been advantageous for me to have taken a little bit of a break. For that reason, I plan to attend less events this year, and I expect doing so to improve my performance.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this article. As I’m writing this conclusion, I’m heading home from the first Cities of the year. I didn’t fare too well with my Trevenant/Gengar list, as I ran into two M Manectric decks, but the decks that did well came as no surprise to me. Vespiquen was in full force, and Night March ended up making a good showing. One deck that I didn’t expect however was Raichu/Crobat. The deck is still very powerful in XY-on. It gains Jirachi as an option for disruption, and Giovanni’s Scheme offers a way for them to push extra damage, as well as a little extra draw power. Overall though, there wasn’t anything too exciting, but I’m sure it won’t be long until someone breaks through with a crafty deck.

If you see me at any of the upcoming events, feel free to say hi! I always enjoy meeting new people. And of course, if you have any questions, ask away. I’m glad to help.

Thanks for reading!

Dylan


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