City Championships are officially in full swing and I regretfully have been unable to attend any so far. Ordinarily, I travel up to Indianapolis on Thanksgiving weekend for their mini-marathon but family plans kept me from partaking in those events this year. This past weekend, I had a small opportunity to travel but opted against it as it was too far for me to want to travel in one day. As I’ve gotten older, my desire to travel has diminished significantly which is something I have expressed in previous writings but I find it to be a matter that I continually enjoy reflecting upon. I was around 17 and 18 when I first became acquainted with the grind of the game and back then, departing at 5:00 AM for a four-hour drive, playing a tournament, and returning that evening would not have made me bat an eye. As I have matured, such a notion is now absurd to even consider and on the positive side of things, I am enjoying my rest and relaxation much more, but negatively I am competing much less.
I still aim to earn an invite to the World Championship this year but I do not think I have the time or the drive to focus on placing as highly as I have in recent seasons. Of course, this is only under the assumption that qualifying for Worlds will be similar to last year’s 300 Championship Point benchmark. If they revert to a more exclusive system (something I would be greatly in favor of), I would be surprised if I were able to qualify. Do not get me wrong — I still greatly enjoy playing but with age (and power) comes greater responsibilities and sadly I believe that some of these responsibilities outweigh trying to win a couple of City Championships. I will most assuredly be attending some as soon as I can; it is simply a matter of finding events closer to me.
With all that said, I am pleased to report that though I have yet to play in an event since Fall Regionals, I follow the game and the results of various metagames very extensively and so even since my previous article just a few weeks ago, I have new opinions on decks and tech choices.
Unsurprisingly, many of the decks that have been highlighted by myself and many other 6P writers have been very popular early on at City Championships. Night March, Vespiquen, Tyrantrum, and Lucario decks are as popular as ever and seem like they will stay at the forefront of the metagame for many weeks to come. The main surprise from in early results is the strength of Yveltal/Gallade. I would not have predicted that the pairing of these two cards would have been nearly as powerful as it has ended up being but for me, it may be the frontrunner for BDIF. I do not want to spend much time discussing it as it is not what I want to focus on in today’s article, but I would like to provide the list I have been working with:
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
I know the objection of “But Brit, you spent a good portion of your last article discussing how much you disliked Archie’s/Maxie’s decks — is it not hypocritical for you to like this deck?” is sure to pop up so I would first like to address it. I had an epiphany since writing my last piece and it is not decks including the Archie or Maxie combo that I dislike. It’s when a deck is 100% reliant on that combo to function in the slightest. With a deck like Blastoise, you accomplish next to nothing if you are unable to get Blastoise on the board on your first or second turn. The Blastoise deck list is so odd looking because it is forced to play super low counts of many important cards just to maximize your chances for the first-turn Archie’s and I think ultimately that ruins the deck and makes it into a kind of lottery rather than a deck that is rewarding of thoughtful and careful play.
This deck, conversely, while still featuring the Maxie’s combo is by no means reliant on it. It is well within the realm of possibility that you could win multiple games while never getting Gallade into play. The deck reminds me a lot of Luxray/Infernape from many years ago in that there is almost no synergy between the main attackers of either deck outside of Weakness coverage but it turns that that these cards are just so strong that when paired together, they can overcome almost any obstacle. Yveltal-EX is simply too good of an attacker and it will remain powerful as long as it is legal in any format while Gallade does a ton of damage for very little Energy and could serve as a way to combat against Yveltal’s Weakness. This deck has all the hype right now and I would not be surprised to see the metagame shift to countering it very aggressively in coming weeks but for now if you have yet to give it a shot, I highly recommend it.
With that said, there are two decks that have really caught my attention with the few results we have received so far and I think they are also worth your attention. First is Gardevoir! A deck that had a very brief five minutes of fame last year during NXD-PRC but was quickly outclassed by almost everything that was released in Roaring Skies. Standard is a much slower format which I think really rewards Gardevoir as it has always been a rather methodical deck. Things that gave it a lot of trouble like Mega Rayquaza-EX, Primal Groudon-EX, and Metal-focused Bronzong decks have fallen by the wayside. The Battle Compressor decks still pose some threat to Gardevoir though I think you have a shot at beating them with careful use of your non-EX Pokémon. The main selling point of the deck is that it absolutely obliterates Yveltal and Tyrantrum decks and so if your metagame is heavily focused on decks of that nature, I think this could be a sleeper hit for your area.
Pokémon – 17
3 M Gardevoir-EX
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
Lacking Max Potion is the main problem with attempting to play this in Standard but given how much slower it is, I think that Super Scoop Up and AZ do a fine job of keeping your Pokémon alive. While there is little to be said about your strategy against Yveltal or Tyrantrum, I think you can beat Night March and Vespiquen with proper play. To begin, you want to get a Gardevoir set up fast as you would in any matchup and it should be able to take a few Prizes before it goes down since reaching 210 damage is difficult for either opposing deck to do early in the game.
After that, you must be careful to not bench any other Pokémon-EX and simply attempt to use Xerneas to take your last few Prizes. It is probably easier said than done but I think if you plan your turns out well in advance, it is an achievable goal. To make this easier, I think it may also be worth considering trying to fit a few Muscle Bands into the list so Xerneas can KO Shaymin-EX as well. I’m not sure if I am fully behind this change, but I think if I wanted to fit the card in, you could maybe drop a Spirit Link or Professor Birch. Shout-out to my teammate Dean Nezam for clueing me into the power of this deck!
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 46
Energy – 6
I did not hear about this deck until this past weekend where Michael Pramawat piloted it to a top four finish at his City Championship and so this list is likely a bit unrefined though I do think it is a good place to start. It looks fairly similar to the Bunnelby/Slurpuff list that popped up at US Nationals this past year but gets the added bonus of Houndoom-EX as an additional miller. It is super fun to play and very effective in the right metagame (avoid playing this around Seismitoad decks at all costs). I think it is probably in the middle of the road when it comes to competitive play, but it really is quite fun to play and is seeing some results across the country.
So with that introductory stuff out of the way, I would now like to shift the focus of the article to our good friend Crobat! He is so versatile and is finding his ways into so many different kinds of decks and while I acknowledge that I have written about Crobat in many shapes and forms in the past, I want to take extra time today to delve into even further detail about the power of card. In each of these write-ups, I want to provide an initial skeleton for where I would start with each Crobat deck and then walkthrough a wide array of techs and Pokémon lineups that will likely fluctuate based on your given metagame. At the end, I will list my personal list for each deck but I urge you not to simply skip that that portion and copy and paste the final list I have provided. Doing that disregards the incredible amount of options these Crobat decks have and thus there is a reason I am not including one list for each deck and moving on!
Note: In all of my skeletons, I will begin with the pyramid line of Crobat. I think that this is the bare minimum of cards you need for Crobat to be effective in any given deck and would never deviate to any lower amount. Golbat can be increased to three or four based on your preference but I do not think that Crobat should ever be above three copies. Four Crobat is certain to be dead weight while three is able to be effective without clogging your hand post of the time. Though often unsaid, I think that one of Crobat’s biggest strengths is that it is inherently overpowered against Night March decks and I am of the believe that almost anything can be combined with Crobat and you’ll likely have a strong matchup against one of the most powerful and popular decks in the game. I have chosen not to discuss Lucario/Crobat since it was featured in my last article and my list remains unchanged for it.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 23
Energy – 4
Open Slots: 18
As you can see, this deck has an incredible amount of space left open for it. I know many people have written this deck off as being viable only in Expanded but I think that the right list could easily be very powerful even in Standard. It is simply a matter a figuring out how we ought to fill the rest of the space!
Dedenne FFI: I have always been very fond of this card. It is never the worse thing to start with as Entrainment allows you to fill your Bench with Zubats early on but of course it is most useful for getting a surprise knockout against Yveltal or other Lightning-weak Pokémon. Even with Weakness, its damage can tend to be on the lower side, but that is easily supplement with Golbat and Crobat damage.
Giratina-EX AOR: Though the Seismitoad/Giratina deck that most of us are familiar with does not include Crobat, I think that it could easily find a spot in this deck. It solves Seismitoad’s weakness against Mega Pokémon as well as being another way to limit your opponent is able to do on their turns. If you chose Giratina for a backup attacker, please note that you will have to include Double Dragon Energy, which may limit your other options.
Lugia-EX AOR: In the past, Mewtwo-EX NXD was often played just to backup Seismitoad and to finish games quickly when Quaking Punch was unable to earn a knockout. Lugia-EX is practically the exact same card with a much more usable second attack.
Regirock AOR: This is likely an unexpected suggestion but Regirock is very powerful against Mega Manectric, which has always been one of Seismitoad’s biggest foes. Of course, playing it forces you to play Fighting Energy but if you are worried about Mega Manectric, I believe that you can include this in your list and will have a solid chance at besting this enemy.
Jirachi XY67: You know based on my last article that I absolutely love this card! I find it incredibly useful against a plethora of decks and I would absolutely include it if I had to build this deck with the mirror in mind or if I knew I was going to enter into a metagame where Giratina-EX is incredibly popular.
Seismitoad decks always take advantage of many unique and annoying Supporters. I am certain that all of my readers have great knowledge of what the majority of these Supporters do so I will not waste your time by stating the self-evident, but I will suggest below which ones I believe you ought to consider for this deck. After the necessary four copies of Professor Sycamore, I believe that you have seven slots to dedicate to these cards in any combination and deciding which to use becomes a metagame decision or personal preference:
I go back in forth on the best way to include Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer into my deck. Sometimes I like to include as many as possible but I have also been known to remove Crushing Hammer from lists that ordinarily play them in favor of adding more consistency to the deck. However, both are worth considering at 3-4 for Crushing and 1-2 for Enhanced in this deck as the supplement Quaking Punch by further limiting what your opponent is able to do on their turns. Cards like Startling Megaphone and Head Ringer (though not in conjunction) are worth considering as well as the further give you control on what your opponent can and cannot do.
As far as recovery is considered, I am usually on the fence about every including these cards into my lists. I see players including them into lists when it is entirely unnecessary but I think there is a real use for either Sacred Ash or Super Rod in Crobat decks as it will allow you to recover your Crobat lines should you be forced to discard them early in the game.
Without Virbank City Gym, Seismitoad has undoubtedly lost one of its most beloved partners but I still think that Stadiums are worth considering in this deck. Silent Lab gives you the opportunity to further inhibit your opponent while Rough Seas makes your Seismitoad more difficult to knockout and can effectively neuter cards like Yveltal with Oblivion Wing.
Finally, I think that you have the space for 3-4 copies of a secondary Energy in your list and it largely depends on which (if any) backup attacker you’ve decided to include. Water Energy is best if you only want Lugia-EX or Dedenne in your deck as you are able to still attempt to set up Grenade Hammer while Regirock and Giratina require Double Dragon and Fighting which will remove those as options.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 34
Energy – 7
So based on my choices, I think you can see that I have crafted the final list for a diverse metagame. I attempt to prepare myself for both Yveltal and Manectric decks while also placing a priority on general consistency. Quaking Punch and Judge is an incredibly strong combination and so I want to abuse it as much as possible but I still have a large stock of one-of Supporters to allow Seismitoad to deal with almost any threat. I will concede that my matchup against any Vespiquen deck in Standard is probably very low but outside of that, I truly believe that this deck is well positioned against almost everything else.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 23
Energy – 4
Open Slots: 18
Admittedly, I am the most skeptical of this build of Crobat. Fighting-typed Pokémon are seemingly very popular in the metagame which will always been the downfall of Manectric-based decks. It turns out though that Crobat itself serves as soft counter to both Gallade and Lucario-EX which gives Manectric-EX some staying power against either way. It’s not the best response and while I think that Lucario/Crobat should probably best you but I’ve had strong results against Yveltal/Gallade with proper Bench management. Ignoring this weakness, the deck is incredibly strong against almost everything else. In the early game, you attempt to spread as much as possible with Golbat and Crobat drops and Manectric’s first attack and then finishing the game with a few Assault Lasers. The early spread damage pressures Evolution decks while Assault Laser threatens to OHKO most Pokémon-EX if they have a tool attached. With that in mind, let’s look at our options to fill the rest of the list!
Since Assault Laser only requires one Lightning Energy, it is not ridiculous to suggest that you include a Pokémon that requires a different color (though I do not recommend it as you’ll see below).
Lugia-EX AOR: Similar logic as why you would want to play Lugia-EX in Seismitoad/Crobat. It is just nice to have a cheap and effective alternative attacker and in this instance, it also becomes a soft counter to Fighting Pokémon with its Resistance. However, I do not believe it a necessity to play any kind of Energy other than Lightning in this deck and Lugia would require you to run DCE in order to be best used.
Seismitoad-EX: We saw the pairing of Manectric-EX and Seismitoad-EX multiple times throughout last year’s season and thus I see no reason why it could not be an option here again. Like Lugia-EX though, Seismitoad is only effective in conjunction with DCE and so keep that in mind before including it in your list.
Jirachi XY67: No further explanation here really. You all know why this card and why I love it in most of my lists and so it should be no surprise to see it suggested once again here.
I do not think that Manectric-EX makes as good of use of some Supporter cards as Seismitoad, but still there is plenty of space for us to pick many different cards to supplement our consistency or add to the disruptive game. I think there is space for 6-7 Supporters outside of Professor Sycamore in this list:
You could consider playing Crushing Hammer or Enhanced Hammer in this list as well but I would be much more hesitant to give Manectric these tools as I do not believe it requires the same type of disruption that a Seismitoad deck needs. Conversely, I think that Head Ringer should be considered higher since it synergizes so well with Assault Laser. Startling Megaphone, as such should also not be considered if you want to give priority to any Flare Tool cards. Super Rod and Sacred Ash additionally have value in this deck (I prefer Super Rod and decks with a higher focus on basic Energy) but again I do not believe this card to ever be a necessity.
Like with the last list, I think your Energy counts will depends on what (if any) extra Pokémon you choose to run. Unlike my Seismitoad list though, I think that this deck has much more space for Energy and can run upwards of 11 but no less than 6. A lot of this decision will come down to preference and simply put, I am the type of player who is deathly afraid of ever missing an Energy drop and consequently I am not afraid to potentially over-devote space in this slot.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 34
Energy – 9
Ultimately, this list is much more streamlined and boring than my prescription for a Seismitoad/Crobat deck. I have chosen to focus on consistency above everything else, because really this deck is so simple that I wouldn’t want to ruin with unwanted tech cards. This deck has almost no tricks but I still believe it to be a powerful threat in the right metagame.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 18
Energy – 4
Open Slots: 17
Last year, Raichu/Crobat was a deck that I really wanted to like but was never able to trust it entirely. It struggled greatly against Seismitoad-EX decks but as that card has severely dipped in popularity and in a format full of other non-ex heavy decks, I see no reason why Raichu couldn’t be a top-tier threat. The inclusion of the Crobat line gives this deck and extreme advantage against Night March and with careful play, the Vespiquen is more than manageable. Admittedly though, I do not think I would have thought about this deck again if it weren’t for the results it has already seen at events and so I claim no authorship for the concept or many of the techs I will suggest (unlike Seismitoad/Crobat to which I think I am one of very few proposing it in Standard). This deck probably has the most space for innovation and creativity and so it will be up to you to choose how to fill your remaining spots and my final list may not be indicative of the best possible list.
Raichu is very dependent on having many Pokémon on the board and so many of my recommendations will be Pokémon related and in the form of a 1-1 line and while I will only be writing about the Stage 1, do not forget that you will need to play the Basic though I will not discuss it in the write-up.
Bronzong PHF: If you’ve read any of my recent articles, you’ll know that I have been a big fan of this card as a small inclusion in many DCE-heavy decks. All of my Night March lists from this season have opted to include the card and so I think it has real potential in this list. Raichu is too fast of a deck to really have the time to attach twice to a single Pokémon but Bronzong allow you to manually attach your DCE while relying on Metal Links to set up multiple attackers in the late game.
Ninetales PRC: Raichu’s maximum damage is completely reliant on Sky Field being in play and so Barrier Shrine will at least lock it in place until it gets knocked out. I was a big fan of Raichu/Ninetales, which was popular before the banning of Lysandre’s Trump Card, and it did wonders in that deck and so I think it deserves you consideration in this list as well.
Milotic PRC: This card has been made popular by other people piloting this deck and for good reason. It gives you the ability to get a 5th (or more, depending on your list) DCE from your discard to further use Circle Circuit as the game progresses. Of course, you can get cards other than DCE and so using Sparkling Ripples can get you out of a tight spot by grabbing another Supporter or VS Seeker when you need to play one and do not have access to it in your hand.
Hawlucha FFI: Hawlucha is another cheap and efficient attacker that has the added bonus of free retreat. Being able to attack for only one Energy will allow you to save DCE for Circle Circuit. It has been included in many Raichu decks before and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be considered once again in this list.
Jirachi XY67: You know why it’s here. 😉
The loss of Colress is a big hit to this kind of deck and so I am not entirely sure how the supporter lineup should be optimized. Many of the techs Supporters in the preceding lists have almost no place in this deck but unfortunately there are just not many options. Here are the Supporters that I would consider here, allot 4-6 slots for additional Supporters:
The Raichu list is incredibly tight on space and so there no room to recommend any sort of disruption cards. The only thing that I can really suggest as a consideration here is running more consistency like either Trainers’ Mail or Level Ball. Both cards are very good and would serve a purpose in the list but it’s just a matter of discovering which options you prefer and which cards lead to the most explosive of starts.
In the past, some Raichu decks have opted to only play Double Colorless Energy and based on the lack of space, I am not opposed to that (though I would surely run Milotic in such a list). Your color of Energy will once again depend on which support Pokémon you’ve opted to pair with Raichu but I don’t think I could justify playing more than seven Energy in this deck.
Pokémon – 25
Trainers – 28
Energy – 7
Of all this lists provided today, this is the one I am most uncertain about. I have tested Raichu/Crobat in a handful of different forms so far and believe that Bronzong is the support Pokémon that I prefer the most, but there is just so little flexibility. The Supporter count is strange and admittedly reliant on drawing many cards with Shaymin-EX but I do not think there is much to fix that. Perhaps it is worth considering dropping 1-2 Level Ball and maybe a Supporter in order to fit more Pokémon. I am not sure if it would hurt the deck too much but having Bronzong AND Nintetales sounds super appealing to me, but I would have to test it to learn further.
Well that’s all I have for today’s entry! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the many different and detailed ways to build a Crobat deck and I look forward to reading what you have to say about my lists. I think that all of them are very competitive and believe that I would certainly be playing one if I had a City Championship this weekend. If anything, they’ve encouraged me to try and experiment with ideas that some people may not be considering and so I hope in some way I might have inspired you to do the same.
As always, I urge you to voice any concerns and comments in the section below and I will do my best to address them as soon as I can. Last article, I had a ton of comments and really think that there was a great discussion that caused me to reevaluate some of my concerns that I had just finished writing about. It really means a lot to me when you comment (whether it’s an agreement or disagreement) and so I hope that this trend continues this time.
Until next time!
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