Hello 6P readers, I’m still Dylan Lefavour, but it’s been a while. Quite some time has passed since I’ve written an article, mainly because I don’t travel much for Pokémon, so before Cities, I hadn’t played since U.S. Nationals, way back in July. I didn’t do marathons, so I’m still looking for points. Some people chase wins early in the season to secure the invite fast, but I like to put my faith in bigger events like States and Regionals. I’ve played the game for 12 years as of 2016, over half my life. My heyday lasted from 2007 to about 2013, and some would say my ship has sailed.
Maybe, or maybe not. So many old-school Masters players have came and went. For a while, I was one of them. I won my prizes and quietly went on my way to college, which tends to be a great filter of many Pokémon players who did well during the secondary school years. At this point in my life and the lives of others, the person has to decide what role he or she wants Pokémon to take as the person is faced with new challenges and priorities.
This year I can actually afford to get back on that grind, but with a late start. Fall Regionals just wasn’t possible for me, but New England Cities season is still in full swing. Keep in mind that my area plays in the Standard format exclusively. I’m still not a fan of Expanded at all. At first, when Expanded first became a thing, people were excited. Then the reality sunk in that it’s a lot of work to be good in two formats.
With most of the U.S. leaning towards Standard, Expanded hasn’t grown or diversified much. Standard is by far the healthier format. I love the idea of an Expanded format, just not the execution. Pokémon cards aren’t designed with long-term balance in mind. I personally wouldn’t call Expanded fair, balanced, or fun. This disappoints me.
Anyway, I should mention that I live in central New England. My area almost always tends towards midrange decks like Yveltal and keeps away from fragile decks like Night March and Vespiquen. Huge amounts of Yveltal kept Night March down for weeks, and Manectric continued to be a good play. When Night March surged across the country, Lucario/Bats emerged to beat it. That trend has recently beginning to carry over to New England, which is funny since we’re still without the Night March decks that caused the Bat resurgence in the first place.
I had a strong showing with a Mega Mewtwo deck just last week and that’s going to make up the bulk of this article. I think it’s a very intricate deck that many people haven’t seen before, so hopefully I can give the readership some insight. I’ll also update Yveltal for the evolving metagame. In addition, I’ll too talk about Lucario-EX, a card that has been surging in popularity due to its innate reliability with Corkscrew Smash and its excellent typing. Lucario/Crobat is my most successful deck online, but probably not the best choice for my local metagame. It’s a strong deck that can either sink or swim depending on the player, and that’s something I like about it.
First, I’ll tackle Manectric. While it may not have the outplay potential that Crobat decks offer, but Manectric is old reliable. It’s sure to do well, but might drop some games along the way.
Manectric-EX has been a strong, consistent, and linear deck choice for a long time now. It isn’t terribly difficult to play, but the deck tends to be matchup dependent.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
actual-drawings.tumblr.comLucario/Crobat decks were all around in Tewksbury Massachusetts, my third City Championship of the season. In this case, I ran into enough Lucario decks to eventually push my record to two losses. Lucario is not an impossible deck for Manectric to beat, but it can be an uphill battle, especially if Enhanced Hammer is a popular choice.
Manectric wasn’t the best play for this City, but it is a strong deck in a metagame that favors it. My play wasn’t entirely without merit. There was a bunch of Yveltal/Gallade in the room — I just didn’t run into any.
Anyway, my the core of my list is pretty standard, but there are some interesting tweaks I should talk about.
There has been a slow shift away from Rough Seas. I’ve noticed that the decks Manectric beats tend to be the only matches in which Rough Seas is really usable. Even without the card, Manectric should still win. I cut to 2 Rough Seas and I added a 1 Parallel City to deny my opponents Prizes on small, valuable, Pokémon like Hoopa and Shaymin. Because I play it, I feel a lot safer running 2 Shaymin.
Parallel City has been gaining strength in just about every deck that wants to keep its own Shaymin-EX off the field. Playing it can also stop your opponent from ever pulling the same trick on you if they can’t counter your City with a different Stadium. Getting the Parallel City to face the way you want it to can win games.
I also played 1 Glalie-EX specifically to stomp on Regirock, the prevailing Fighting Pokémon in Yveltal at the time (at least in our area). While Gallade is far more prevalent throughout the world, Glalie isn’t entirely useless against that either since 150 drops a Gallade in one shot. The deck runs 1 Muscle Band for Glalie alone. With Muscle Band, Glalie can actually bring something special to the table. A 170-damage nuke is something Manectric has always wanted since the deck has no other way to one-shot an EX (not named Shaymin).
Since we already run Water Energy, it follows that I also play 1 Regice AOR to be a non-EX attacker. I helped me through a Lucario/Bats matchup and it would have been a win condition against the other Lucario deck I ended up paired against … but he played Crushing Hammer. Water Energy never seemed to stick that round.
The other common alternative to Regice is Raikou BKT, and that wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I replaced it with Regice. I realized that if I could only stack Energy on one Pokémon, it may as well be Glalie instead. Glalie has a specific purpose and Raikou is more of a general attacker than a tech for a matchup.
Here is a bonus Manectric/Crobat deck. I’ve never played the deck in a tournament myself, but this list trades the Mega for Bats, improving the Night March matchup. In a metagame filled with Night March and Yveltal, there is likely to be little Lucario. This deck could dominate.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 36
Energy – 9
While it hurts my heart to run Birch, I think this type of deck is quite scared to discard key cards. Judge also can’t be its only shuffle-draw, so Birch is a strong alternative … 50% of the time. I’m not the biggest fan of Giovanni, but I feel like this is what most people who hate Birch should run. Trainers’ Mail is in here because more Supporter draw wouldn’t improve the list and 2 Trainers’ Mail is a solid number. Since it can’t get itself, playing a full 4 copies gets diminishing returns. That said, I play 4 in other decks because when I have the space for 4 there aren’t many better options I’d rather have.
Head Ringer is well positioned right now even though it is rarely played anymore. While it’s rarely played, it’s also never played around, which helps give the card a surprise factor against unaware opponents. Xerosic is great for removing a useful Tool and then crippling the Pokémon with a Head Ringer. With 3 Head Ringer and the prominence of Tools, you won’t often be swinging for any less than 120 on turn two.
Speaking of Yveltal/Gallade, I’m not so sure Gallade should still be part of the formula. It was originally included to help improve Yveltal’s abysmal Manectric matchup. Since then, Manectric has adapted. Flash Energy is a staple now, forcing the Yveltal/Gallade players to run Enhanced Hammer or Xerosic additionally.
I’m a big advocate of picking a deck based on metagame alone, and in an area with tons of Manectric, Yveltal shouldn’t even be considered. An area without any Manectric would likely be heavy on Lucario and Night March decks — and the following list stomps on both. I’m sure there will be a lot of readers who dismiss this idea because Gallade offers a tremendous amount of utility in Premonition, which helps against every player’s auto-loss: dead draws. Personally, I find the Gallade/Maxie plan itself terribly inconsistent. Here is an alternative list that saw play in New England. After all, there is no shortage of Gallade lists out there, so I’m offering an alternative that does have some proven success.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 31
Energy – 12
This deck runs a heavy Zoroark line and a full suite of Yveltal XY. It’s all about speed and consistency and Gallade contributes to neither.
We cut down to 3 copies of Battle Compressor since it’s the card that makes the least sense in the Gallade-less list. We can afford to play more Darkness Energy now, leading to a higher chance of having them in the discard pile early game without necessarily having to Compress them. Without them, this would look like a Yveltal list we saw last year at this time. Compressor also functions as a way to get at singleton Supporters by using VS Seeker. I don’t think we can afford to cut them entirely.
One choice you may find “confusing” is Zorua BKT 89 … or maybe it just makes sense. Jokes aside, confusing the Defending Pokémon has instant payoff. The other Zorua may or may not discard a useful card, but instant Confusion will probably force some type of resource out of your opponent. Confusion isn’t confusing at all. It’s simply way better.
Zoroark BREAK is a great card against Tyrantrum-EX, M Manectric-EX, Mewtwo-EX, and countless random Pokémon that could pose threats. Simply using an opponent’s attack for a single Darkness Energy is one of the strongest things a person can do on his or her turn. It’s too good not to play. 40 more Hit Points also puts the Zoroark out of easy knockout range for a lot of main attackers.
Parallel City is slowly becoming staple in my lists. I don’t think it will be in literally every deck, but when games often end in “Lysandre Shaymin for game,” the card starts looking pretty appealing. Getting those free Prizes off of your board is a huge advantage in the late game. Also, playing yours as soon as possible means that your opponent has no chance to get the Giant Stump effect on their own side of the field unless they run other Stadium cards. Surprisingly, a lot of decks don’t!
Lucario/Crobat’s biggest strength is the utility that Corkscrew Smash brings to the deck. Lucario’s other two attacks aren’t too shabby either. Not only can this deck utilize Korrina, perhaps the highest impact Supporter in the format behind Sycamore, it also can refill its hand by simply attacking. In a format where strong shuffle-draw effects (like N and Professor Oak’s New Theory of old) are nonexistent, these are two huge reasons to play this deck over something like the Yveltal list above, even if that deck assuredly does more damage upfront.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 34
Energy – 9
I just praised Korrina so highly, but this list runs such a low count! As good as Korrina is, it’s highly situational. While it offers huge utility, Korrina still doesn’t draw like Sycamore. Nonetheless, Korrina makes single copies of Items much stronger. Professor’s Letter, Escape Rope, Level Ball and Super Rod are all worth playing thanks to this card alone.
I’ve noticed myself forgetting to add Hex Maniac to my decks lately, but then I began to remember how little I actually use this card in practice. It’s extremely situational and as a single copy in a deck that can’t Compress it into the discard pile? I’ll pass.
Even with Super Scoop Up, I think 2 copies of Shaymin-EX is the right number to be at. Corkscrew Smash can make up for poor draws, but I think it’s correct to always have a Set Up available to you, especially in a format where disruption is creeping back to the forefront of the metagame. I’ve noticed a trend towards disruptive cards like Crushing Hammer aside partners like Seismitoad-EX and even Lucario-EX itself. Head Ringer is making a comeback in the Manectric-EX decks like the one I featured near the top of this very article. When these cards can put players so far behind, Shaymin can help put you back in the lead. The more the merrier, and remember that even the most consistent deck in Standard can throw you terrible hands.
I don’t think moving Pokémon around is a huge issue with this deck, but 1 Escape Rope is nice to have. I play this option over Switch or Float Stone because it brings more utility to the deck. Although it’s a more situational version of those cards (a lot of time you don’t want to move the Defending Pokémon), it’s here thanks to Korrina. Thanks to her, the Rope is never far away when you really don’t want the Defending Pokémon around. If you don’t think the switching effect in needed, add the 2nd Lysandre back in.
This article is now a Mewtwo article. In Tewksbury, all of my losses were to Lucario decks, barring one. That was my good friend Chris Murray’s Mega Mewtwo deck. And no, it wasn’t the “Y” Mewtwo deck. His version used Shrine of Memories with Mewtwo-EX to abuse the scarcely played and underrated Mewtwo-EX BKT 62. It turns out that Damage Change is actually a pretty big deal. He took six Prizes in four turns after I made an attack I shouldn’t have. Damage Change erased the damage I did and totally reversed the tempo of the game.
Many games are decided in less than 10 turns. Damage Change does damage and it fully heals, all for one attack. Generally, Pokémon with attacks like this are limited by their lack of utility, and this Mewtwo-EX is no exception on its own. We play both versions of M Mewtwo-EX and Shrine of Memories to get the best of all three Mewtwo. So yes, we run the clunkiest of the clunk, M Mewtwo-EX BKT 63. AKA, Mega Mewtwo “X” — AKA, the “bad one.” That’s right, it’s all a conspiracy: 63 is the good one. Illuminati? Could be.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 36
Energy – 12
A pumped-up M Mewtwo-EX is a win condition against most decks, and it’s remarkably easy to achieve with 4 copies of Mega Turbo. The genetic Pokémon has built-in staying power with Damage Change, making it easy to stack Energies on. It can easily use its attack to take advantage of Pokémon that have low early-game damage like Yveltal, Lucario, and Manectric. Damage Change offers good insurance for investing tons of resources in one attacker.
Once a Mewtwo is built up, most Pokémon fall to Vanishing Strike, including Giratina, which would otherwise be impossible for a Mega Mewtwo deck to stop. Ignoring all effects on the Defending Pokémon is a powerful catch-all to deal with general counters to Pokémon-EX like Regice as well.
And when the Defending Pokémon is damaged, it isn’t even that hard to keep Mewtwo alive. It’s easy enough to Lysandre a Shaymin, change some damage, and sit happily with a clean Mewtwo-EX and two fewer Prizes by the end of your turn.
Jando Luna wrote about a M Mewtwo deck that ran Zoroark. While that deck deals damage faster and more consistently than mine, the deck I have here packs just enough punch to deal with every winnable matchup, but not much more. His deck uses more of a “midrange” strategy that comes out fast and does good damage throughout the game, while my version possesses far more inevitability. After a certain point, Vanishing Strike acts as a win condition. Once Mega Mewtwo 63 is fully online, this deck has almost zero counter-play (save for Pumpkaboo, the nemesis).
On Saturday, I found myself setting up for Vanishing Strike in almost every game. Generally, rushing Psychic Infinity shouldn’t be a high priority. If it is possible, great. If not, take things slow and steady. If we can afford to Psychic Infinity to two-shot Pokémon in the early game, there’s almost no way we can lose. This situation is more uncommon than you might think though. Don’t forget that this is a very slow deck in a fast list’s world. If we get that Mewtwo out swinging on turn two or three, it probably won’t have any meaningful backup. If we go for first blood and they swing back, we will have to Lysandre something up just to get a meaningful Damage Change.
This combo isn’t quite as good in the late game. If you get to that point, sweeping with Vanishing Strike is way better, and easier. Mindless even. I’ve called it a “heal” effect, but remember that the damage is being swapped. You’ll want a clean Pokémon to gift all your damage to, preferably a Shaymin or a similar squishy target. This is pretty much the dream of all dreams though.
Keep in mind that this requires a Shrine, Lysandre, and enough Energy. This also has to happen early enough for it to matter. If it were always possible for you to protect a Psychic Infinity Mewtwo like this super early in the game, it would likely be the most broken thing in Pokémon. Doing this with Vanishing Strike Mewtwo isn’t the same. Psychic Infinity’s early pressure matters quite a bit.
If we don’t have the raw damage to follow up Damage Change, the game-changing effect doesn’t really get you anywhere. Most popular decks have a hard time playing around Damage Change’s mixed effects, especially if the pilot isn’t experienced in the matchup. The threat of Damage Change itself tends to passively protect Mewtwo, making it very safe to slowly build up to Vanishing Strike. This pressure can easily snowball into a win when an opponent if forced to play outside the box. Many strategies (and players) aren’t fit to play creatively. Sometimes strategies lose power and efficiency if they’re altered to play around Damage Change and it’s easy to capitalize on that as a Mewtwo player.
Honestly, this deck is still pretty new, but I think it will eventually get more attention. As far as I know, it was first played by players from the Virginia area. I don’t think a deck like this one has been covered online anywhere until now. Anyway, there are a few interesting card choices to talk about.
Parallel City is best used with its “Giant Stump” effect side pointing towards us. This deck tends to give up some Prizes early, so limiting your own Bench to deny Prizes on Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX can stop your opponent from having any chance to race you. I never felt like I needed any more than 3 Shrine of Memories. Any less and I don’t think I would have had it on crucial turns. At the moment, I’m pretty sure my Stadium mix is correct.
Smeargle was underused in my experiences. I’m just not sure if there is a better non-EX Pokémon to run. It can fix some awkward situations with Second Coat. This Energy-fixing Ability is really cool, and Smeargle has proved itself as a problem-solver in decks with weird Energy lines. I felt like I might rather more Energy instead of the single copy Smeargle. That would let the deck be more free with Battle Compressor discards. A 6th Psychic could ease the balance between having Energy in the discard for Mega Turbo and having enough in the deck to attach one per turn. Cutting this is a possibility, but we need some kind of non-EX in here.
A 2-2 split between the different Mega Mewtwo is probably optimal. There are too many different matches where Vanishing Strike is crucial to play any less of this Mewtwo than two.
I know Chris played Pokémon Center Lady in his original build, but I never thought it was anything special. In hindsight, it would have made the deck a bit safer to play. It’s a very situational thing to use optimally, but PCL can give a damaged Mega Mewtwo a new lease on life. The card often converts into an extra 200 damage. Pretty good for a Supporter. On the other hand, it’s only good on certain turns. AZ fulfills a similar role with more utility.
Speaking of cards that aren’t in the deck, let’s look at Hex Maniac, the most overrated Supporter in the game. It doesn’t bring much to the table here. It doesn’t do much of anything against Giratina since Vanishing Strike already blows through that card. It can stifle Bats, but ultimately it’s a situational card. I played it in Manchester this past weekend, but now it’s coming out. You won’t see it in the list above. If Vespiquen has a hold on your area, the card is probably a bit better.
The list above runs a single copy of Escape Rope. It brings more utility to the table than a 2nd Float Stone or a Switch would. A common tactic is to stall the inevitability of Vanishing Strike by sacrificing a non-EX, and if it’s the only one in play, Escape Rope can bring up a more valuable target for Mewtwo to nuke.
Shrine/Mewtwo punishes its player for even small misplays. It’s quite a heavy deck to pick up because every attack tends to lock into future play paths. For example, Damage Changing means that you won’t be able to Damage Change again the next turn UNLESS you’re holding a Lysandre. It takes some solid foresight to play optimally.
If you’re looking to beat this deck in the next few weeks, I suggest playing against it a lot. The deck has a lot of quirks. It’s probably a harder deck to play against than it is to pilot.
You’ll find that there are some attacks that you just can’t safely make into a Mewtwo that can potentially Damage Change, and that is part of what makes this deck’s strategy so dangerous. Missing those strong attacks can easily put any other deck so far behind on the Prize trade that Mewtwo can easily come out on top. After turns five or six, this deck is almost impossible to race.
So why isn’t this deck totally unbeatable? Well, sometimes it tries to do too much. I ended up losing to Giratina/Toad in Top 4 after being heavily denied any resources in games two and three. It’s moments like that when the deck seems fragile. It’s toolbox-esque in a way. We have many plans for a variety of situations. Occasionally, you’ll play against a perfect storm of answers. This guy had Toad to stifle my acceleration and Hammers to stop me from stacking Energy under a Mewtwo. When I had to discard a Vanishing Strike Mewtwo with Sycamore in game two, I had absolutely no way of coming back.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many good Supporter cards for Pokémon #150 to utilize. The deck really wants to accelerate its early game and is forced to use Sycamore. Sometimes you’ll find yourself discarding powerful late-game gas to enable your early game. This deck’s losses tend to come from bad luck, which is a pretty lame thing to blame losses on, but this version of Mewtwo does have the answers to deal with the metagame, but packing so many answers tends to spread them thin.
While there will be situations where you just can’t get what you need to win a certain matchup, there isn’t much this deck can’t beat on a good draw.
Another year has come and gone, which means Cities is in full swing. This is the most important time of year for many players seeking to secure their invites or get a head start on the road to Worlds. Maybe I’ll be there too.
With marathons over, there are only a few more Cities to wrap up. I think Yveltal/Gallade, Lucario/Bats, and Mewtwo/Shrine are the strongest decks right now. Night March has also proved to be quite powerful in some parts of the country, but I’ve noticed it begin to fall off in 2016.
Hopefully I could deliver some insight into a deck that hasn’t been talked about much. I think that Mega Mewtwo “X” is a card with a ton of undiscovered potential. It has the ability to run the late game on its own, much like M Manectric-EX. I am very fond of Pokémon that don’t need attention. Once they’re fully set up, they win the game on their own, even if the pilot draws dead.
Thanks for reading!
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