Hello again, citizens of SixPrizes! This is Grant Manley with my second article here, and I am excited to get right into it. I hope you are having a great holiday season so far and are having as much fun at Cities as I am. I am actually about to take a break from the Cities grind to visit family for Christmas, but before that let’s talk about some more rogue decks and discuss the Cities metagame.
In this article, I will discuss the Cities I have attended and the decks I played, and then I will go over two more neat decks that have great potential. First though, I would like to take a quick moment to follow up on my first article where I discussed four rogue decks and predicted the Cities metagame. I have forgotten just how drastically the popular decks can change based on where you live! Here in North Carolina we saw obscene amounts of Gengar-EX on the first week, and on Week Two I saw copious portions of Seismitoad-EX in Virginia with no Gengar in sight. Back in NC on Week Three, Night March and Vespiquen decks were everywhere. Of course, M Manectric-EX and Dark decks were sprinkled throughout.
To tie this back to my previous article and relating to the decks therein, I predicted Manectric and DCE-based speed decks to thrive in the Standard format. This was partially correct as Manectric and Night March are both near the top of the food chain in terms of nationwide results. Vespiquen seems to be falling out of favor and M Rayquaza-EX is nonexistent. What I did not predict at all was rise of Dark. This type in all of its variations is by far the most resilient archetype since 2012. The deck just doesn’t die! This time around, Yveltal-EX and Baby Yveltal are enlisting the help of newcomers Zoroark BKT and Gallade BKT to create a combo that is difficult to overcome.
Since I was not expecting this change, the decks in my last article are ill-suited to handle Dark. As such, they were most effective to use during the first week of Cities before Dark really took off in popularity. I don’t think that they can be modified to handle Dark, barring one deck: Dark Ark, which is ironically just a spin-off variation of the main deck itself. Later on in this article I will show you a modified version of this deck that I’ve been working on, but for now I am going to go over my Cities and discuss the decks that I played.
Note: All of the Cities in my area are exclusively in the Standard format, and as such I have not even touched anything in the Expanded format. Everything within this article refers to the Standard format. Statements regarding the popularity of decks are drawn from the data on this page at The Charizard Lounge with permission to use this information. Also, this is going to be a rather long article!
I did not attend any Cities on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but I attended two in North Carolina on Saturday and Sunday. I don’t think that my Day 1 list is very good so I will only include it for reference in case you are interested.
M Sceptile-EX/Giratina-EXDay 1:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
Energy – 13
The idea of this deck is to work like a normal Sceptile deck, and to only use Giratina-EX to beat Night March and Vespiquen which are two of Sceptile’s few bad matchups. I didn’t face a single Night March or Vespiquen all day, so I basically ran M Sceptile-EX with five dead cards. I ended up going 4-2 and I finished around 10th. I lost to M Manectric-EX due to prizing two M Sceptile-EXs and not playing optimally, and I lost to Primal Groudon-EX because I had to discard my Ariados and two Sceptile Spirit Links on the first or second turn. I ended up winning against two Magnezone/Raikou decks, a Fighting/Bats, and a Giratina/Vileplume.
I realize this is a brief review of Day 1, but that is because I am not proud of the list or of my performance during that day. I will go more in depth on the better decks that I ran during Cities, and only am including this one for the sake of a complete recap.
Day 2: Turbo Tina
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
I had been excited about Turbo Tina ever since I started testing it at the beginning of November. It went through many variations and turned out like this, which I believe was the optimal list for Turbo Tina at the time before Dark really took off. I explained this deck in its entirety in my last article, so check there for an exposition of the deck if you would like one. In a nutshell, you use Reshiram’s Turboblaze to fuel quick and powerful Chaos Wheel attacks from Giratina-EX while manually attaching Double Dragon Energy. There are a couple of neat tricks this list packs which I will explain before recapping the tournament.
Latios is a fearsome card to have in this format. In decks like Turbo Tina, Tyrantrum, Seismitoad/Giratina, and anything else that runs Double Dragon with Muscle Band, Latios is a definite inclusion. Since this format is infested with low-HP Basics like Combee, Joltik, Pumkaboo, Bronzor, Zorua, etc., no deck is totally safe from a donk. Latios can steal games in the blink of an eye with Fast Raid, and this format is ripe for the picking for first-turn wins.
Remember when I said that Gengar-EX was being heavily played in NC? Conveniently, Latios helps in that matchup. Aside from the fact that Latios can donk Phantump with Fast Raid, Light Pulse is useful as well. Light Pulse costs an exorbitant price of two Double Dragons, but in this matchup the requirement is well worth it. Light Pulse conveniently deals 110 damage, which is the exact HP amount on both Trevenant XY and Wobbuffet PHF. Additionally, Light Pulse prevents all effects of attacks on the following turn, meaning that Gengar’s Dark Corridor cannot poison Latios. Assuming that Gengar-EX has a Muscle Band, it will only deal 80 damage after a Light Pulse. When taking into account the fact that Latios-EX has 170 HP, one can see that Light Pulse’s blocking of Poison is actually significant enough to turn a 2HKO into a 3HKO! Light Pulse also prevents Jirachi XY67 from discarding Double Dragon Energies with Stardust. This might come in handy but probably won’t.
Your opponents generally have one or two turns to play down Special Energies before the Chaos Wheel lock, and Enhanced Hammer shuts those attachments down. Enhanced Hammer is a effective disruption card because most decks run Special Energy and will try to attach them before they get locked. Enhanced Hammer also allows you to attack with something other than Chaos Wheel with minimal repercussions. Attacking with Rototiller or Bright Wing opens up turns for your opponents to attach Special Energies, but Enhanced Hammer can negate that advantage.
In my last article, I mentioned having a tech Stadium card in this deck, but did not consider Parallel City! Parallel City is useful to have after your initial setup because it can bump Sky Field and allow you to discard excess Shaymin and Hoopa. Limiting the opponent’s Bench to three is crippling to some decks, and adds another disruptive factor to your arsenal. Your opponent cannot even bump Parallel City because Chaos Wheel locks Stadiums!
Round 1 vs. M Manectric-EX/Regice AOR — Win
Round 2 vs. M Mewtwo-EX/Shrine of Memories — Win
Round 3 vs. Tyrantrum-EX/Giratina-EX AOR/Bronzong PHF — Loss
Round 4 vs. M Sceptile-EX — Win
Round 5 vs. Gengar-EX/Wobbuffet PHF/Hammers — Loss
Round 6 vs. Giratina-EX AOR/Vileplume AOR — Loss
I finished with a poor record of 3-3, but I will still discuss this deck because I believe it does have some merit. All of my wins came from decks based around Megas, which is no surprise thanks to Giratina’s Renegade Pulse. My first loss was against Tyrantrum, which is a favorable matchup. In testing I believe I went 4-0 against Tyrantrum, but in the tournament game I was unable to find either of my Enhanced Hammers at a good time and was also unable to effectively use Parallel City. These techs usually help Giratina beat the deck fairly easily but it just didn’t work out in the game. My other losses were games that I had no chance.
In Round 5, my opponent went first and opened with Wobbuffet, which shuts down the entire deck. Additionally, a whopping six Hammers slams the nail in the coffin against my deck which is already weak to Energy disruption. In Round 6, my opponent went first and got a T1 Vileplume. When I was finally able to Knock it Out, he immediately responded with another Vileplume. I could not play an Item card the entire game, though I almost dragged it to time by abusing Sky Return and Hydreigon’s Dragon Road.
- Decks based around Mega Pokémon
- Night March
- Entei/Charizard (when including 2 Startling Megaphone)
Turbo Tina is inherently a strong deck, but for now it is a meta call. It has many favorable matchups but its unfavorable ones hold it back. The matchups sections are included to help determine when to use Turbo Tina based on what is seeing play in your area. As I’ve said, different decks are popular in different areas, so Turbo Tina could be a strong play in Texas but an awful one in New York.
Decks based around Mega Pokémon are typically easy for Turbo Tina to deal with. The main exception is M Manectric-EX/Regice. Regice is downright annoying. It isn’t impossible to deal with because a Reshiram with a Muscle Band can 1HKO it, but it does tilt the matchup a little bit.
Night March/Milotic and Raichu/Crobat are free matchups. There aren’t many ways to lose against them. Night March/Bronzong isn’t too difficult either, and it is important to keep Bronzong out of play. They can get around the Special Energy lock with Metal Links, but they can’t get out of the Stadium lock. This eliminates Pumpkaboo as a viable attacker by locking Dimension Valley. It also means that Parallel City makes them precariously juggle their Bench spaces between Shaymin-EX, Night Marchers, and Bronzongs.
Vespiquen is another good matchup. Vespiquen functions similarly to Night March, and is favorable for the same reasons. Be careful not to leave yourself with eight Benched Pokémon, because then a surprise Entei AOR 14 can 1HKO Giratina-EX. It is important to target Flareon AOR and any Pokémon that have basic Energy attached.
Tyrantrum is a slightly favorable matchup as well. Their need for a large Bench and reliance on Double Dragon Energy make your combination of Parallel City, Enhanced Hammer, and Chaos Wheel too much to handle. Aegislash-EX can be dispatched with two of Hydreigon-EX’s Shred attacks, so long as at least one of them is boosted by Muscle Band.
I haven’t yet played Turbo Tina against the new Entei/Charizard deck (see here), but theoretically it is a difficult matchup. It is too easy for the Fire deck to equip Assault Vests before Chaos Wheel goes online, and Blacksmith gets around the lock on DCE. Why am I listing this in the “Good Matchups” section then? Well, two Startling Megaphone would completely turn this matchup. Without Assault Vest, the deck would likely struggle against the onslaught of multiple Giratina. Yes, Entei can trade 2HKOs with Giratina, but they can’t do that consistently. Heat Tackle requires a DCE and a Blacksmith to charge in one turn, and what do you know, DCE is locked. Heat Tackle also has a 50 percent chance of dealing 30 damage of recoil. This is important because it allows Chaos Wheel to 1HKO, and it means Entei just killed itself if it took a Chaos Wheel on the previous turn. Oops.
- Ability lock
Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade is the new frontrunner for this format, so even the slightly unfavorable matchup to it makes Turbo Tina a risky play. Yveltal-EX’s Evil Ball takes advantage of the fact that Giratina-EX requires four Energies to attack, but it still needs four basic D Energies to 1HKO under the Chaos Wheel lock. Zoroark takes advantage of Turbo Tina because of its reliance on a full Bench. While Zoroark can be easily 1HKO’d by almost anything in the deck, it packs quite the punch when it is around. Of course, Yveltal XY can bring back basic D Energies from the discard to alleviate the pressure of the lock on the all-important Double Colorless Energy.
The final player preventing Giratina from ever having the upper hand in this matchup is actually Gallade. Gallade’s Premonition prevents opponents from drawing into Chaos-locked cards, and its 150 HP makes it a non-EX monster that is impossible to 1HKO. Unfortunately, it can also 2HKO anything in Turbo Tina with Sensitive Blade if a Supporter has been played.
Well then, what stops Turbo Tina from having a complete auto-loss against the BDIF? I’m glad I asked. While it’s true that Baby Yveltal can recover basic Energies, the Dark deck still draws most of its firepower from DCE and Muscle Band. Chaos Wheel prevents those cards from being played. Additionally, Parallel City can even the playing field by preventing Gallade + Maxie plays. Have you ever tried setting up a Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick while only having two Benched Pokémon? It isn’t easy to say the least. Parallel City limits their Bench to three, and they still need a spot for Gallade to come into!
I was surprised to find out that Fighting/Bats is much more difficult for Turbo Tina to win that I initially thought. The matchup is around even to slightly favorable for Fighting/Bats. Pre-Chaos Wheel Focus Sashes attached to Hawlucha are the most obnoxious thing, and the little bugger swings for 60-120 damage per attack. Combine this with the endless rain of Bat Bites, and you’ll see that the swarm of pesky little guys can actually take down a few of your monstrous Pokémon-EX. Super Scoop Ups on a damaged Lucario-EX gets irritating after a while too. The Startling Megaphone tech that I mentioned earlier would certainly help in this matchup.
Ability lock has to be the main bane of Turbo Tina. Constant Bide Barricades and Hex Maniacs force this deck to pass itself into oblivion. Every Pokémon beside the cute 1-of techs have an important Ability, and the draw engine is reliant on Shaymin-EX and Hoopa-EX. Fortunately, most decks cannot effectively stream Hex Maniac, especially on the first two turns when you need to set up. Silent Lab is the only other form of relevant Ability lock, but Turbo Tina plays 5 counter-Stadiums so you should be fine.
There were no local tournaments in NC for this weekend, so some friends and I went up to Richmond on Saturday. We didn’t have any tournaments on Sunday. My deck choice for this City is the most rogue one yet, though it is only a variation of Yveltal XY/Regirock AOR.
Day 1: Black Rock
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 38
Energy – 9
This deck is actually similar in concept to the Hawlucha/Hammers deck that I presented in my last article. I still run a lot of Hammers to create an Energy-denial strategy, while packing a powerful Fighting-type to deal with M Manectric-EX. However, when most people look at it, they see only a messed up Yveltal/Regirock deck. This deck is also a bit of an anti-meta deck. The large amount of Hammers is enough to cripple most of the decks in the format, and the Pokémon were chosen to take out specific threats that don’t mind Hammers. The fact that the main attackers turned out to be Yveltal and Regirock (an already existing archetype) is purely coincidental.
A trio of Yveltal XY allows the deck to easily defeat Night March, which is a deck that doesn’t really care if you use Hammers against it because it expects to lose an Energy per turn anyway. Yveltal effortlessly KOs Pumkaboo and Joltik, all while accelerating Energies from the discard. Yveltal was also included in anticipation for Trevenant XY/Gengar-EX decks. Trevenant shuts off more than half of the deck, including Hammers. It has a Weakness to Dark though, which allows Oblivion Wing to 2HKO it and 1HKO the Basic Phantump.
Yveltal BKT is a cute tech that is useful to have Active when going first and won’t be getting a T1 Oblivion Wing. Its Ability nullifies all Tools while it is Active, so it can hinder your opponent’s setup process by blocking Float Stone. Yveltal can then start firing off Pitch-Black Spears as early as your second turn. Fright Night annoys opposing Megas by turning off all Spirit Link cards. Yveltal has particular utility in the Mienshao matchup, which is now a non-issue because Mienshao has not been seen much. Yveltal’s Resistance to Fighting and its disregard of Focus Sash make it a natural predator of Mienshao.
Regirock is the deck’s powerhouse. I’ve already mentioned that it’s great against M Manectric-EX, but with the two Focus Sashes it can trade well against almost anything. Regirock is the go-to attacker against any opposing Pokémon-EX and even some non-EXs.
I’ve included a second Smeargle BKT because this deck relies on using Smeargle more than other Yveltal/Regirock decks. I cannot afford to run only one and prize it. There aren’t many alternate attackers like Zoroark BKT and Yveltal-EX in this deck, so I need to have F Energies available at all times for Regirock.
I don’t really know why I included Bunnelby besides to have more recovery and maybe just to use Hammers more, but it proved to be important. I won two tournament games because of Bunnelby, and I would have won my win-and-in if I had used it correctly.
Jirachi was added to improve my Toad matchup, and that turned out to be the correct call because there were quite a few Seismitoad-EX decks at the tournament.
The last thing that I should mention is Ace Trainer. Everyone is running Judge in their decks, and I will go right out and say that I think Judge is bad in most decks. It makes sense in decks with Item lock, Unown, and Fighting/Bats, but not otherwise. Ace Trainer is a functional draw Supporter that works like a superior Judge if you are playing a slower deck. Black Rock will not be fast in taking Prizes, so I figured Ace Trainer would work quite well. You cannot use it T1, but that is ok.
Round 1 vs. Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX AOR/Zoroark BKT — Win
Round 2 vs. M Manectric-EX/Pyroar PHF/Pyroar FLF — Win
Round 3 vs. Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX AOR/Crobat PHF — Loss
Round 4 vs. M Mewtwo-EX/Bronzong PHF — Win
Round 5 vs. Yveltal/Zoroark BKT/Regirock AOR — Loss
Round 6 vs. Yveltal/Zoroark BKT/Gallade BKT — Win
My mediocre 4-2 record earned me 10th place with strong resistance because four of my opponents went 4-1-1 or better. In my third round, I realized that it is a problem that none of my Pokémon can retreat for free. This prevented me from transitioning into Jirachi under Quaking Punch lock. I still maintain that not running Float Stone is correct because there are already five essential Tools, but some Floats would have been nice to have on the first turn of that game. Soon after I benched Jirachi, it fell to Bat damage. Regirock couldn’t handle my opponent’s barrage of Crushing Hammers and Enhanced Hammers, so I was handed my first loss of the day after getting a taste of my own medicine.
My second loss came from something that was sort of a mirror match. It was a close game, but my Hammers were too much for my opponent to handle. Regirock also put in some work because of its ability to 1HKO Zoroark and Zoroark BREAK (with a Muscle Band). Turns out I ran too low on cards in my deck. My opponent was down to just one DCE left as his only Energy card, and was using it to chain Sky Return to avoid my Hammers. After he took a KO, I promoted Bunnelby. Now it is worth noting that I only had one Energy left too, a Dark. I did not topdeck it, so I passed. My opponent played Lysandre on Smeargle and I had no outs left. I decked out.
When I promoted Bunnelby, I should have used Professor Sycamore to draw the remaining cards in my deck. I would have drawn my Energy and a VS Seeker. I could have then used Rototiller to put back two Switches to prevent the Lysandre stall play. From there, I would have used my own Lysandre to drag up Yveltal-EX and strand my opponent. He had nothing left. Rototiller and Burrow would have kept me from decking out while ensuring that my opponent did just that. This was a silly mistake that costed me a top cut, as I could have ID’d my last round. I knew what was in my deck at the time, and looking back I cannot justify not playing Sycamore. Maybe I was paranoid about an opposing Bunny drop? Oh well. I guess the point is that Bunnelby is a fantastic inclusion but you need to use it correctly, unlike me.
On a happier note, my opponent in the last round was 2-0-3. He played slowly, resulting in a would-be tie for our game. However, it was clear that I was about to win the game, so he conceded because there was no potential benefit for finishing at 2-0-4. I think that my play for this tournament is still an effective rogue deck whose odd cards will throw people off track when they start expecting a typical Yveltal/Regirock deck. I got more than one exclamation of surprise when I played Hammer after Hammer, attached Focus Sash, and benched Bunnelby.
Now, let’s get into the real talk. How exactly does Black Rock fare against the meta?
- Night March
- Mega Manectric
I dare include Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade here, though I admit the matchup is only slightly favorable. It might not even be a stretch to call the matchup even. Black Rock essentially disallows DCE for the entire game, which cripples its Darkness counterpart immensely. The total of eight Hammers does a number to Dark’s speed, and essentially neuters Yveltal-EX outright. Regirock plows through Yveltal-EX and Zoroark, while not worrying about immediate retribution thanks to Focus Sash. Don’t forget about Fright Night. Yveltal BKT has its place in this matchup, but not in every game. The combination of locking Tools and removing Energies is sometimes troublesome for the BDIF.
Night March is fairly easy. Yveltal XY is your choice attacker for the beginning of the game. You can easily dispatch at least three Night Marchers with your three copies of Yveltal, and Oblivion Wing charges up anything else you feel like using. Be careful to avoid benching Shaymin-EX when possible. If Shaymin finds its way onto the field, make it a priority to KO a Joltik with Sky Return. The nail in the coffin is Super Rod, which can be used to recycle Yveltal XY. If you are facing the Milotic version, prioritize Knocking Out Feebas while Hammering Energies.
Vespiquen is another favorable matchup. All you do is run it out of Energies. Lysandre stalling and liberal use of Rototiller on Hammers is helpful here. It also doesn’t hurt that Yveltal XY with Muscle Band 2HKOs Vespiquen.
Regirock completely decimates M Manectric-EX. Enhanced Hammer disposes of any rogue Flash Energies and Regirock goes through Manectric after Manectric like nobody’s business. Manectric decks don’t typically have an easy answer to one Regirock, let alone to three Regirock.
I have not actually played this deck against Tyrantrum/Bronzong, but it is theoretically a favorable matchup. The Hammers do a fine job of denying Double Dragon Energy, which turns the game right there. Regirock with Focus Sash is a problem for Tyrantrum because Despotic Fang doesn’t actually go through Focus Sash. Regirock trades too well with the deck’s EX-based attack force.
- Mega Sceptile
Anything that can swarm Bats makes for an odd matchup against Black Rock. Beating decks with Crobat relies primarily on two things. First, can you rid them of all of their Energies? As long as you can handle Milotic, Raichu XY/Crobat PHF should not have enough Energies to win the game. Other Bat decks, such as Manectric-EX/Bats and Fighting/Bats, have less clear outcomes. If you are playing against Crobat with Dimension Valley, you probably straight up lose.
The second factor is how many cheap Prizes you can take. Did they bench a Shaymin-EX or two? Load up a Regirock with a Muscle Band and try to gain the upper hand with Lysandre. If you are forced to stare down an army of Bats and nothing but Bats, your best bet is utilizing Darkness Blade for a 2HKO against Crobat … that doesn’t sound good. Scoop Ups and AZ are crucial cards for Bat players. They take advantage of your inability to 1HKO Crobat while keeping up the stream of damage from Sneaky Bite and Surprise Bite. You may be reduced to chaining Sky Return for a tie, but even that method is not foolproof. You might face a play of two Crobats for 60 damage worth of Surprise Bites, followed by a Banded Skill Dive for a total of 110 damage. Not even Shaymin is completely safe.
Entei/Charizard is definitely unfavorable. You can disrupt them with Hammers and Jirachi, but most lists run too many Blacksmiths to handle. It certainly doesn’t help matters that Entei can 1HKO anything besides a Sashed Regirock. The matchup is not an auto-loss though. There are some things that can go right, such as Entei damaging itself to make some decent math for you and them discarding a lot of Energies.
M Sceptile-EX is one of the most brutal auto-losses of all time. Thankfully, that deck was not too popular in the first place and has nowhere to go but down due to the rise of Fire.
Now we are getting into the more recent City Championships. During this weekend I had the benefit of attending two extremely close City Championships, and I was eager to pick up the slack.
Day 1: Christmas Colors
Pokémon – 27
1 Doduo XY
Trainers – 25
Energy – 8
Sorry to disappoint you with a fairly standard Vespiquen list. I am not sure how I feel about Vespiquen as a deck or how good it actually is. I did think Vespiquen was the strongest play for the tournament though, and I wanted to play it thanks to its favorable Dark and Toad matchups. Well, you probably know how the deck works by now, and there have been so many iterations of this archetype over past SixPrizes articles. I won’t bore you with the details, but like Turbo Tina, I will go over some of the more interesting additions to this otherwise basic meta deck.
Vaporeon was a meta call. It didn’t do a thing for me the entire day, but there were a few Fire decks present that I could have run into. A Camerupt-EX deck actually made Top 8.
1-1 Dodrio BKT
The Dodrio line is unorthodox, as usually one or two Float Stones or an AZ suffice as Vespiquen’s switching cards. Without Dodrio, I would only have 25 Pokémon in the deck, which is not enough ammo for Bee Revenge. I used Dodrio as my “Pokémon Float Stones” to be used for Retreat Aid if needed and discarded for Bee Revenge otherwise. The first thing I did with Battle Compressor is determine if Doduo was prized. If it was, I would immediately discard Dodrio. If Dodrio was prized, I would usually discard Doduo unless I thought I would need Retreat Aid later.
Jirachi was used only to fortify my matchups against Giratina variants, especially Toad/Tina. It’s only two slots, and Jirachi also has a niche as an attacker than can operate off only one R Energy. I’m not sure if two is correct, but both are needed to seal the Toad/Tina matchup.
Parallel City is somewhat gimmicky, but it works well in this deck. It is only used to reduce your Bench to three. This usually results in discarding two Shaymin-EXs. Not only does this action remove those liabilities from the Bench (crucial against Night March), but it also adds 20 damage to Bee Revenge. Thus it almost works like Muscle Band. You almost never want to limit your opponent’s Bench to three, because Parallel City’s other side weakens Vespiquen. You could play a fourth Unown instead of Parallel City if you wanted too.
Round 1 vs. Bronzong PHF/Zoroark BKT/Metal Stuff — Win
Round 2 vs. Wobbuffet PHF/Noivern FFI/Crobat PHF — Win
Round 3 vs. Yveltal/Zoroark BKT/Gallade BKT — Loss
Round 4 vs. Yveltal/Zoroark BKT/Gallade BKT — Loss
Round 5 vs. Reshiram ROS/Giratina-EX AOR/M Rayquaza-EX ROS 61 — Win
Round 6 vs. Vespiquen AOR 10/Crobat PHF — Win
Needless to say, I was disappointed with yet another 4-2 finish at 10th. My first round was against a Metal deck that some friends cooked up the night before and didn’t tell me about. Unfortunately for them, it takes an auto-loss to anything with Fire. Both of my friends who played the deck did end up in top cut though. My second round was an uneventful dead-draw on the part of my opponent, though I suppose Bats and Noivern could give Vespiquen fits if they ever got set up.
Rounds 3 and 4 were against the same deck which I expected to beat. Dark usually cannot keep up with Vespiquen at all. It can attempt to trade for a bit with Zoroark, but when those are gone it’s over. In Round 3 my opponent ran very hot. While I should have been able to keep up and win the matchup fairly easily, I had a crucial and improbable whiff of DCE which lost me the game. Prizing Jolteon did no favors either. In my fourth round, I used Sycamore with around nine cards left in my deck and ended up decking out when I was clearly going to win. I KO’d both Zoroark and all my opponent had left was a handful of Baby Yveltal. The problem was that I accidentally discarded Bunnelby with Sycamore! I actually meant to bench it to prevent myself from decking out, but my brain must have skipped a step and I lost again to a silly mistake. All I can say there is whoops.
Fun Fact: Three of my four wins were direct results of using Flareon’s Heat Breath, including a fun and fast-paced game against Bee Bites. Who would have thought?
I’m not going to go over Beevees’s matchups because they are relatively straightforward and have probably been discussed to death on this website already. In a nutshell, you beat a lot of things due to Vespiquen’s unparalleled ability to Prize trade. Night March and Manectric are iffy matchups, meaning that they can go either way, and anything with Bats is a nightmare.
Day 2: Batman
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 34
2 Head Ringer
Energy – 8
Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF has seen a bit of play so far, but it is still a slightly obscure deck and I don’t know why. Batman is a phenomenal deck that takes advantage of low-HP Basics in the format and it can deal with most of the meta. All you do is use both of Manectric’s attacks according to the situation and use Bats to help Manectric reach KOs. Bats help Overrun deal with low-HP Pokémon, and they also help Assault Laser achieve 1HKOs on Pokémon-EX. I believe that this archetype could very well be the best deck in the format.
This list is fairly standard, but I did include two Assault Vests. While Bats can usually handle decks that attack with DCE such as Night March and Vespiquen, Assault Vest further improves these matchups. Assault Vest also neuters Gengar-EX and helps a great deal against Entei. Zoroark BKT would be a threat because Batman usually works with a large Bench, but Assault Vest gives you some leeway when dealing with the Illusion Fox. Of course, there are so many more Pokémon that use Special Energy like Giratina-EX, Yveltal-EX, etc. and I just went over the most relevant ones that stood out to me. Assault Vest is definitely worth its salt.
I am not positive on the inclusion of Parallel City. Parallel City reduces damage from the popular cards Vespiquen and Entei, and it can make the difference between a 1HKO and a 2HKO on Manectric. Against anything else, you can annoy your opponent by limiting their Bench with no downside. It is a neat little inclusion that is occasionally helpful.
4 Lightning, 3 Flash, 1 Fire
Finally, I have the wacky Energy line of four Lightning, three Flash, and one Fire. The basic Lightnings don’t require any explanation, and the three Flashes were only for Gallade. Gallade can be tricky to deal with despite its Weakness to Psychic, so I wanted to have a few Flash Energies to swing the matchup against anything with Gallade BKT. Bats alone can deal with other Fighting decks like Mienshao and Fighting/Bats, but they don’t do a great job of dealing with Gallade.
The R Energy is a 1-of off-type Energy because there is no scenario where you will regret having an off Energy. There is no reason to not run it. With the rising popularity of Scorched Earth in Entei decks, you can use the Fire to draw cards every now and then.
Round 1 vs. Trevenant XY/Gengar-EX — Win
Round 2 vs. Entei AOR 15/Charizard-EX FLF 12 — Win
Round 3 vs. Night March/Milotic PRC — Win
Round 4 vs. Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong PHF — ID
Round 5 vs. Fighting/Bats — ID
Top 8 vs. Night March/Milotic PRC (2-1)
Top 4 vs. Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong PHF (1-2)
Finally a top cut! I am surprised that it took me five tries to finally make a top cut, but I think Batman is the most deserving of the decks that I’ve played so far. Swiss was uneventful, besides when my Round 3 opponent prized six Night Marchers! I played the same opponent in Top 8, and we had a fun and unexpectedly close match.
Game 1 I opened first with an Active Manectric-EX and two or three Zubat on my Bench. I also went for the “safe” Assault Vest on Manectric and thought I had the game right there. Somehow and someway my opponent was able to fuel a 220-damage Night March to 1HKO Manectric-EX through Vest on his first turn! I had to give him a hand for that. The game played down to the wire because the Bats put in the work. Night March’s Dimension Valley helps me nearly as much as it helps Pumpkaboo. Eventually I played Parallel City to bump Dimension Valley as well as to discard one or two of my Shaymin-EXs. I ended up losing because I was Judged into nothing but a Shaymin, and couldn’t bench it to draw any of my many outs to win thanks to my own Parallel City!
Games 2 and 3 I drew well and won the favorable matchup without too much trouble. The games were close and well played, but Bats tend to eat up little Marchers and Feebas for a favorable Prize trade. Assault Vest was definitely helpful in this series as well. While it wasn’t able to keep Manectric alive for the first two turns of the series, it did force my opponent to discard 10 Marchers and dig through his deck.
My Top 4 match was absolutely pathetic. I opened with a dead hand in not one, not two, but all three games of Top 4. I was able to win Game 2 because I drew out of it two or three turns into the game and the matchup is difficult for Tyrantrum. Game 3 I went second and opened with only a Manectric. A swift T2 Dragon Impact from Tyrantrum-EX ended me.
- Night March
Batman has excellent matchups, and it is well-rounded enough to deal with random and lower-tier decks too. First off is Night March. I’ve already talked about how Bats eat up the little guys and abuse Dimension Valley for a favorable matchup. Skill Dive is the go-to attack for this matchup, but Manectric with Assault Vest is an effective offensive option that can often tank a Night March attack.
Vespiquen is perhaps even easier than Night March because it can less easily hit big numbers early on. Parallel City and Assault Vest make it even more difficult for Vespiquen to hit knockouts. Bat damage and Overrun is an effective combo for clearing Combee from the field, and Crobat is useful for Surprise Bite and Skill Dive later on. This is probably the most favorable matchup, and Batman has no business losing it.
One primary reason that Manectric is viable right now is because it devastates Yveltal. Manectric can easily dispatch both Yveltal XY and Yveltal-EX. Three Flash Energies and the option to attack with Crobat should be enough to handle the accompanying Gallade. Finally, Zoroark is a nuisance. Thankfully, it is easily KO’d and can be crippled by Assault Vest.
Tyrantrum/Bronzong is the next favorable matchup, though my Top 4 match certainly did not showcase it. When I don’t open with dead hands, it is easy to clear Bronzor and Bronzong of the field with use of Bats and Overrun. When Bronzong is no longer present, Tyrantrum-EX cannot do much. Thus, opponents are left with Giratina-EX and Aegislash-EX. Giratina cannot even 1HKO Crobat and only deals 60 damage against Assault Vest. Aegislash is a decent option against Batman but it is usually only a 1-of and can be dealt with over one or two turns.
Last on the list is Fighting/Bats. While this is a type disadvantage, Crobat and Flash Energies swing the matchup. As usual, you want to clear the low-HP Pokémon from the board, and this time they are opposing Zubat and Golbat. A Manectric with a Muscle Band can actually 1HKO Zubat or Golbat with Overrun. A Manectric with a Flash Energy and an Assault Vest can tank through the Fighting/Bats deck for a few turns and cause them some serious problems. Additionally, Fighting/Bats can hardly do anything to your own Crobat, especially when combined with Super Scoop Up and AZ. Skill Dive with a Muscle Band deals 100 damage to Lucario-EX for only one Energy!
These are the only two true bad matchups for Batman. Toad/Giratina is nearly impossible to beat because of all of the Energy removal cards. Batman will run out of Energies. However, Jirachi XY67 would be a nice solution for this matchup. It wouldn’t stop the Energy removal cards, but it could remove all of their Energies! Eventually, you would be able to use Items like VS Seeker and Super Rod to recover cards when Quaking Punch is no longer in effect. They could even deck out!
Entei/Charizard isn’t the nicest sight to see, but it is winnable. Entei can have two Muscle Bands attached because of Theta Double, and this boosts its 130 damage Heat Tackle up to 170. Unfortunately, this is exactly enough to 1HKO Manectric-EX and a Crobat with Assault Vest. Entei is also a non-EX that usually comes in packs of four, so they are quite threatening.
Speaking of Assault Vest, it helps quite a bit in this matchup. Entei relies on DCE + Blacksmith turn after turn in order to keep up with anything that can actually trade KOs with it. This means that it cannot take out a Manectric with a Vest unless it gets loaded with four Fires. However, Manectric needs two turns to power up, which means that going first is important in order to keep up with the faster Entei deck. Assault Vest is also helpful on Crobat because it can force a 2HKO on the non-EX, as Entei won’t always have two Muscle Bands. Swarming with Bats is also useful to have all the help you can get in this unfavorable matchup.
My friend Eddie and I made the last-minute decision to go down to South Carolina for a City this weekend. I didn’t really know what to play, so my friend Oliver convinced me to play Night March/Vespiquen/Bronzong. I changed a few cards from his list and ended up with this:
Day 1: Metal March
Pokémon – 23
Trainers – 30
Energy – 7
Apparently this combination of Night March, Vespiquen, and Bronzong is actually a popular thing now. For the most part, this is a standard Night March deck with Bronzong for Energy acceleration. Vespiquen is a backup attacker that actually works well. Against Pokémon-EX-based decks you can now afford to throw away eight or nine Marchers. You can then use Vespiquen to attack when all of your Marchers are gone. The one thing I wish I had included is some sort of recovery such as Buddy-Buddy Rescue. All of the games I lost (besides one dead-draw) were because I had to discard too many important Pokémon and couldn’t get them back.
Once again, I had to include something weird in an otherwise boring deck. For this tournament, I made the last minute call of two Startling Megaphone. I was glad I did because it helps against Fighting/Bats by removing Focus Sash and also against Entei by removing Assault Vest. I would run one, but a second allows me to nab it more often when I need it.
Look, another lone copy of Parallel City! This was included for the same reasons it was in Beevees. It bumps the liabilities known as Shaymin-EXs off the Bench while adding to Bee Revenge’s damage. It could theoretically help against Entei by preventing Flame Screen from 1HKOing Joltik, but this didn’t turn out to be relevant because their four copies of Scorched Earth and Muscle Band prevent that from happening much.
Round 1 vs. Regice AOR/Vileplume AOR — Win
Round 2 vs. Fighting/Bats — Loss
Round 3 vs. Reshiram ROS/Giratina-EX AOR — Win
Round 4 vs. Thundurus-EX ROS/Vileplume AOR — Win
Round 5 vs. Fighting/Bats — ID
Top 8 vs. Night March/Milotic PRC (2-1)
Top 4 vs. Fighting/Bats (2-1)
Finals vs. Entei AOR 15/Charizard-EX FLF 12 (2-1)
I finally got a City win! I also managed to survive both Vileplume decks in the room, as neither got a first-turn Vileplume. The first three rounds were awful because they were all dead-draws. In the first and third rounds, my opponents drew poorly and I Night Marched to quick wins. In my second round I drew-passed for three turns and lost quickly.
My fourth round opponent ran a neat and fun deck that used Paralysis lock with Item lock. Thundurus-EX’s attack costs a Lightning and a Colorless and deals 30 base damage. If you flip heads it deals 60 total and if you flip tails it does 30 and paralyzes. He also ran Trick Coin to achieve the Paralysis + Item lock easier, but the deck isn’t the quickest and Night March was too fast for it to deal with. If he had gotten the first-turn Vileplume while going first, it may have been a different story.
Top 8 was against my friend Eddie who I rode with, and since Top 8 didn’t get CP, it was a shame we had to face each other. We had a very close series with the pseudo mirror match. The mirror match is not fun though, and it can be quite degenerate. We each made one obscure misplay during the series but otherwise we both played well and it was an intense match. I won the opening flip for Game 1 and that all but decided it. Whoever goes second in the mirror match is at a huge advantage.
However, his Target Whistle provided him with the option to KO Shaymin-EX to put him ahead. I had to be careful with discarding Shaymin-EXs and using Parallel City to avoid letting him use that Target Whistle. Parallel City was extremely helpful, as I was able to use it to bump his Dimension Valley which did many things at once. It cleared two of my Shaymin-EXs from the board to prevent them from getting Lysandre’d. It also prevented him from using Target Whistle and easily attacking with Pumpkaboo because his other Dimension Valley was prized! I targeted Feebas above all else during the entire match whenever possible, and that ended up saving me by preventing all manner of sinister tricks from Milotic. Overall though, the matchup was mostly in the opening flip which I won.
Top 4 was against Carson, who is another friend that made the trip out to Myrtle Beach. Fighting/Bats seems to draw sub-optimally quite often, and that is what happened. Startling Megaphone was useful to remove Focus Sashes as well. In Game 2, I prized two Lampent and two Pumpkaboo, and had to discard both Bronzongs on T1 or T2. I also had a majestic Set Up for four into all of my Supporters left in the deck. These things lost me the game, but I made it close because Carson drew poorly.
The Finals was a back-and-forth match against that Fire deck I’ve been talking about so much. Night March has the slight edge because I can Lysandre and attack during the same turn, while Entei relies on Blacksmith to stream attackers. The two Startling Megaphones came in clutch as well by removing crucial Assault Vests. I ultimately won because of my advantage in being able to Lysandre and KO Pokémon-EX.
I would like to go over the matchups for Metal March but they are probably similar to Vespiquen’s and Night March’s. The only games that I have actually played with this deck were the tournament games, so anything that I say about matchups would be mostly speculative theorymon. I’ll leave the matchups out for this one.
… And that will conclude all of my Cities so far! I tried bringing some substance and useful information to my tournament reports, so I hope you enjoyed them!
As promised, now I will somewhat quickly review two of the decks that I have not yet played at Cities but have still been messing around with. These are great anti-meta plays that I will definitely consider if I am able to make it to any Cities in January.
Dark Ark 2.0
Pokémon – 25
Trainers – 27
1 Professor Birch’s Observations
Energy – 8
This looks like a messed up version of the typical Dark deck, but it is more like a Zoroark toolbox deck. Zoroark is obviously the main attacker, and the BREAK is a nice bonus. Mind Jack is absurdly powerful even though your opponent can play around it. That is much easier said than done, and Mind Jack can be devastating because many decks cannot easily function with a small Bench. The techs are for those decks that can function with a small Bench.
Zoroark BREAK is basically a slow Stage 2, but its Foul Play attack takes advantage of the ridiculous amount of power in this format. It can copy any attack on your opponent’s Active Pokémon for only one D Energy! Zoroark BREAK is useful against Fire decks, because Foul Play can 1HKO Entei and also 1HKO Charizard-EX if Zoroark has Muscle Band. The BREAK is also particularly effective against Gallade, M Manectric-EX, Tyrantrum-EX, and more.
2-2 Raichu XY
Raichu has always been a popular and easy counter to Yveltal-EX, and now is no exception. Raichu is still powerful in other matchups, and it can be your attacker early in the game if your opponent tries to be cute and limits their Bench to one or two Pokémon. The free retreat is a nice commodity as well.
In my last article when I discussed this deck, I outlined the many uses of Unown. Unown has synergy with the Supporters because it lets you recover from the small draws of Judge, Maxie, and occasionally Birch. Of course, Unown is amazing in tandem with Gallade’s Premonition. You can use Premonition to order your deck and then use Farewell Letter for a huge consistency boost.
1 Gallade BKT, 1 Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick
Speaking of Gallade, it isn’t used solely for its combination with Unown. Gallade is another powerful attacker that runs on DCE, and it counters Manectric splendidly. Its 150 HP allows it to stick around for a while and it definitely puts in the work for a non-EX.
Yveltal XY gives you a better chance against Night March as you trade evenly with them all game. It is also another bulky non-EX and can accelerate Energies. It isn’t needed too often, but I run one because it is nice to have.
Yveltal-EX is not used in any particular matchup, but it is an all-around solid card. Evil Ball and Y Cyclone are both hard-hitting attacks that put the pressure on unprepared players. It is yet another attacker that can work when the opponent limits their Bench. Y Cyclone can be used to preserve Energies when necessary, as the the deck only runs four of each Darkness and DCE.
1 Judge, 1 Professor Birch’s Observations
This is one of precious few decks in which I am content to run Judge and Professor Birch’s Observations. While I appreciate the merits of shuffle-draw, I believe that these Supporters are overall bad cards. For the most part, Judge is only worthwhile in Fighting/Bats, lock decks, and decks that run Unown to recover from drawing only four cards. This deck not only runs Unown, but also the Battle Compressor + VS Seeker combo. Because of those two things, 1-of Supporters like these are worth it. I like to have shuffle-draw in this deck particularly due to the amount of pieces like Zoroark BREAK and Raichu that may otherwise have to be discarded.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 37
Energy – 10
This deck is much like the Kyogre decks of last season. The name of the game for this whale is Tidal Storm until you win. Kyogre’s advantage in this format is simply that hardly anything can handle it. Starting on your third turn, you should start your onslaught of Tidal Storms and keep them up until you win the game. It is linear but happens to work incredibly well against most of the meta. Your most basic game plan goes like this:
- T1: Attach Water to Benched Kyogre.
- T2: Attach Water to same Kyogre and Mega Evolve without Spirit Link. Attach other Tool if possible before evolving.
- T3: Attach two Waters using Alpha Growth and bench another Kyogre. Start attacking with Tidal Storm, and move Energies to Kyogre.
- T4: … and so on; attack with Tidal Storm and play cards.
This may be obvious to you, but the main takeaway is that you don’t actually attach Kyogre Spirit Link to your first Kyogre because it won’t make a difference if all goes according to plan. You will attack with Tidal Storm on T3 with or without Spirit Link, so you would rather have a Float Stone or a Hard Charm on it.
Primal Kyogre-EX is what you will ideally attack with all the time. Yveltal can’t overcome it, Manectric can hardly scratch it, Night March can rarely ever 1HKO it, Entei gets laughed at, Bat damage get washed away with Rough Seas, Hawlucha is puny, and Tyrantrum has to 2HKO. And what’s that? After four Tidal Storms you win because it KOs all of those nice Shaymin-EXs? That’s right, and these reasons are why Kyogre is a force to be reckoned with. Clocking in with a massive 240 HP and added bulk with Hard Charm and Rough Seas, Kyogre takes advantage of the fact that most of the meta is ill-equipped to deal with this army of orcas.
Regice AOR is your backup attacker and it conveniently covers things that can give Kyogre some trouble such as Giratina-EX and M Sceptile-EX. Since this deck is slow and doesn’t start attacking until T3, Regice also functions as a wall to hide behind while setting up. 120 HP on a non-EX is not too shabby.
4 Switch and 2 Float Stone act as your switching cards, as most of the Pokémon have heavy Retreat Costs and need to get around. Six switching outs may seem excessive, but the deck does have the room for them and it is crucial that you can transition new Pokémon to the Active Spot when you need to.
2 Enhanced Hammer and 1 Hard Charm makes this matchup even more of a nightmare for Night March. Enhanced Hammer disrupts their Energies while you set up. Past T3, you can just KO the Energies and don’t need Enhanced Hammer. Hard Charm makes it impossible for Night March to 1HKO Primal Kyogre, unless they somehow toss 11 Marchers and use Muscle Band with Giovanni’s Scheme. Of course, these tech Items are useful in other matchups as well. A Kyogre with a Hard Charm is not fun to deal with, especially if your opponent is running something like M Manectric-EX or Fighting/Bats.
Rough Seas has the obvious benefit of a powerful healing option and makes Kyogre that much more of a tank. I feel obligated to mention that Rough Seas is also needed as a counter-Stadium, especially against Parallel City. Parallel City severely weakens Primal Kyogre-EX by making it deal 130 base damage while only spreading 10. Fortunately, most decks do not run heavy counts of Parallel City, so the 3 Rough Seas should be more than enough to deal with it.
The 1 R Energy is used for the exact same reason as it is in Batman. Every usable attack requires at least one C Energy, so there is no downside to running an off Energy. Now that Scorched Earth is relevant, you would be hindering yourself by running all Waters.
That is all I’ve got for now! Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my accounts of my Cities so far, as I tried to add some helpful substance and deck analyses to the actual tournament reports. I do believe that all of the decks I ran at Cities barring the first one are still strong plays that can pull off top cuts and wins, especially if they are used in the right meta. Dark Ark 2.0 and Tidal Terror are fantastic decks that are showing a lot of promise. If you want to play Kyogre though, watch out for Vespiquen! Vespiquen is the one card that gives Kyogre fits and it is extremely difficult to deal with.
I encourage you to test out these decks for any of your remaining Cities, and good luck! Until next time, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
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