Head spinning yet? If you’re looking for something crazy, this time of year in Pokémon should fill your need. Some of the most important tournaments of the year are on the horizon, a new set was released yesterday, and States follow almost immediately after. In the course of six weeks, we’ll go from BLW–BKT, to BLW–BKP, and end up at XY-BKP. Throw in the potential mess Generations may or may not become and it’s clear that this is one of the more hectic periods in the game’s history. Hopefully I can help straighten it out for you today.
I don’t especially care for Winter Regionals, as with less events than Fall and Spring Regionals, less of the player base has reason to care about the format. Mix in BREAKpoint’s February 24th legality, and the BLW–BKT format is only relevant for three tournaments. With that in mind, I’m looking to cover a lot of bases today in hopes that everyone finds something useful. For some of the player base, there’re only more two weekends between today and Regionals. For others, BREAKpoint is all the rage. In that spirit, I’m going to start with some thoughts on BLW–BKT before transitioning to a general review of BREAKpoint and offering some concept suggestions from the set.
Spoiler: Sableye DEX is far and away one of my top choices right now — for both formats. The concept saw some limited success at Fall Regionals, perhaps capitalizing on its relatively unknown status to prey on unprepared players along the way. Alex Koch, Nick Robinson, and Jeffery Cheng were the three players that took the deck to Top 8s last October, proving that there was certainly at least some degree of merit to its success.
Puzzle of Time’s release is unlikely to do anything but further the case for Sableye’s rise. For better or worse, I believe the format largely is going to center around a battle between Sableye and Seismitoad-EX over the next few weeks. Decks that can reliably beat both will be well positioned for success.
Without further ado, let’s get into some decklists.
Dumpster Diving: Sableye/Garbodor (BLW–BKT)
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 41
2 Head Ringer
1 Life Dew
Energy – 6
This list is fairly similar to what Alex Hill offered in his last article, but there’re also some significant departures. The Wobbuffet is primarily there for things like Vileplume AOR and Archeops DEX, but it’s excellent in the early game against Blastoise as well. In fact, it’s often viable to simply win a game against Blastoise with a T1 Wobbuffet and T2 Garbodor. That’s obviously not foolproof, nor always viable, but it’s an option that’s good to have on the table.
I firmly believe mirror will be a somewhat big deal. I reflect that in the Pokémon Center Lady, as you’ll quickly find that the battle of Hypnotoxic Laser and Confuse Ray defines the matchup. I’m no great fan of Ghetsis, as I believe the turn 1 use isn’t as useful as typically advertised, but it does hold its own as a mirror option as well. I see many lists omit AZ, but I feel it’s an invaluable option for dealing with the mobility issues the deck can otherwise face — Aqua’s Secret Base makes Sableye a rather immobile creature.
Against Seismitoad-EX, the win condition is removing all of the Double Colorless Energy. Assuming Sableye doesn’t draw especially poorly under Item lock — a possibility — the Crobat version is the only one with a much of a chance to beat Sableye in 2/3 games. Even then, 4 DCE is 4 DCE, and it’s an uphill battle for Seismitoad. To me, Trubbish is actually the difference maker here, as Garbage Collection provides access to a guaranteed Xerosic/Team Flare Grunt. Should your opponent feel the need to N, the new hand of 6 isn’t a bad outcome either.
The 2nd Super Rod is going to look a bit out of sorts, but it’s nearly essential to prevent a loss to poor Prizes. Perhaps it’s a gamble that could be taken in best-of-three, but if Super Rod is missing from your initial search, the game is probably over. In the interest of not losing — or tying — a series I should win to poor variance, the 2nd copy is fairly worthwhile to me.
I choose to omit Trick Shovel. It’s not an exciting decision, but something that happened in pursuit of compromise between deck space and potential utility. Back when I discussed Houndoom-EX Mill, I went on at length about my feelings toward the card, and much of that is still true here. As a mill card, it’s inefficient — just use Bunnelby. It’s fun to think about pulling a surprise off on someone using Trick Shovel + Burrow + Burrow on a 3-card deck, but the odds are very low that you won’t have already tipped Trick Shovel’s existence in your deck by this point (through Junk Hunt or something else). It’s simply not a viable strategy to pull off covertly.
The better use for Trick Shovel is as a topdeck control card. Even then, it’s not really good for more than one turn where you leave a useless card on top and Junk Hunt. There just isn’t a great purpose for it in any count, so I’m omitting it.
Target Whistle is an interesting card, particularly in close matchups like Vespiquen. Obviously, an opponent’s goal is going to be to eliminate the option to use Lysandre as a stall tactic by not benching any unnecessary/cumbersome Pokémon. At one point or another, something like Shaymin-EX will make its way to the discard, and that’s the ideal time to strike. Being able to Lysandre/Head Ringer a Shaymin-EX, particularly with Aqua’s Base in play, is often a game-winning play if the opponent is low on resources. If nothing else, it can further deplete their supply.
Generally speaking, I believe this is easily one of the strongest decks heading into an unknown field. The only major archetype that I don’t believe this can consistently beat in a series is M Manectric-EX. Otherwise, it’s only fringe concepts like Primal Groudon that I could see proving threatening to the deck’s premise.
However, I don’t know that this deck is anything approaching infallible right now. The time rules are a serious issue here, and while I believe the risk of a tie is generally exaggerated, I don’t know that it’s a safe bet to count on Sableye for 6 wins over the day. Not only is there the risk of fluky matchups like the mirror, but much of your day will be in the hands of your dice — or top card. Drawing dead with this is far from unusual, and I find it rare that I take a decisive 2-0 decision in testing.
Time Aside: The Clock and Dealing with Slow Play as a Sableye Player
I tend to decry the idea of a player using “playstyle” as justification for a deck choice (or non-choice). That still holds true, but in this case, I simply caution: if you’re a slower player, this deck might not be for you. I find that it’s often necessary to scoop an ugly Game 1 or Game 2 within the first two or three turns of the game, and as such, having the foresight to recognize a game gone bad is essential. It’s possible to have time to win a Game 3, but you have to recognize the point of no return in Game 1 if that’s to be your reality.
In addition to decisiveness in conceding, a Sableye player needs to be unafraid to become familiar with the judges in the room. The reality is that there’s a segment of this player base that’s utterly unconcerned with the slow play rules, and, moreover, knows that judges are unlikely to do anything about it. That’s not an indictment against judging — it’s a reflection of reality. If you choose to play Sableye, you need to keep the following in mind regarding slow-play judge interaction:
- Communicate your concerns — to your opponent. Before calling a judge, it’s good form to make your opponent aware that you feel their play is lagging. Often, the “peer pressure” will work psychologically to alleviate the issue altogether. It’s also fairly commonplace for an opponent’s slow play to be unintentional — these are high stakes — and sometimes a nudge in the right direction is all it takes to resolve the problem.
- If needed, get a judge involved. Obviously, intentional slow-players aren’t going to yield to your request for long. An opponent violating the time guidelines once or twice in the next 10 or so actions isn’t going to push me over the edge, but it’s important to not let too much time erode in the name of social correctness. Give a bit of time for your opponent to comply, but if that’s not happening, escalate.
- Be respectful and polite. No judge is going to be at all compelled to help a player who’s rude, so no matter how far along in an interaction you are, keep it civil. You’re trying to ensure the game is played within the confines of the rules, as is the judge.
- … but do get your point across. In my years of playing the game, there’ve been a few cases where my concerns were poorly understood by a judge — that’s not on them, but my explanations. Make clear, without being difficult, that you’re concerned about your opponent’s pace of play. Add detail where needed, but keep it concise — time’s ticking!
- Don’t get flustered. Once you’ve made your point, you’ve necessarily distracted yourself from the game. Get back in the flow of things — for the most part, you’ve done all that you can.
- If a judge isn’t watching … they probably are — from afar. There are a select few players that will continue to slow-play in front of a judge’s eyes. For that reason, don’t be surprised if the judge you talk to strays away from the game. They have an entire section to oversee, and one game can’t monopolize their attention. However, even with that in mind, don’t be surprised if there’s an arrangement behind the scenes that you can’t see. The same judge may be watching from three rows over, or another judge behind you may have been tipped off to the situation.
- If slow play decidedly persists, ask for the Head Judge. There’ll be some that disagree with me, suggesting this to be too heavy-handed for something a floor judge is probably monitoring, but I implore you to make your concerns known. If nothing else, it will likely bring the concern to the entire judging staff — at minimum, take heart in knowing you’ve done your part in bettering the playing environment as a whole.
- Once that’s happened, you’ve done all you can. It’s not satisfying, and it’s not fair, but it’s reality: some players will get away with slow play. Regionals are huge events that often could use twice the staff as they have, so unfortunately it’s impossible to cover every base. There are some players in this game that use their reputation to mask their slow play, and the simple reality is that some judges are going to hesitate to act in those situations. It’s not their fault as a person, but the fault of the social structure this game propagates.
- Please, please don’t immediately hop on Virbank and start bashing the judges or your opponent. It will achieve nothing positive, but will definitely invite the ire of all involved with the organization of the event. Most judges, contrary to popular belief, are out to make the event as fair and enjoyable as possible.
- This should go without saying, but keep your own pace lively. Not only do you counter your goal of finishing as much Pokémon as possible, but you also look like a hypocrite. I don’t think I should have to elaborate on this one. Don’t.
- In that spirit, if you win a long Game 1, it will be tempting to take Game 2 at a lackadaisical pace. If you value your credibility with the judge staff — a pretty important commodity — don’t. The player who calls an opponent on slow play in Round 3 and is the subject of monitoring in Round 4 is the same one who will have little help against a slow player in Round 6.
- Finally: Rushing is equally illegal. Again, be polite throughout the entire interaction. Your goal isn’t to burn every social bridge in the room, and being a jerk about it opens you up to penalty yourself.
I should stress that most cases of this issue won’t make their way past the first judge call, if that far. There’re only a select few players in the country who insist on slow-playing to such a degree that getting the Head Judge involved becomes necessary.
For reference, here are what the Penalty Guidelines offer:
7.4. Game Tempo (Excerpt)
In general, the following time limits for various game actions should be appropriate. The times given below are general guidelines; players attempting to compartmentalize their turn in order to use every second of the time allowed for the items below are almost certainly stalling and should be subject to the Unsporting Conduct: Severe penalties.
- Performing the actions of a card or attack: 15 seconds
- Shuffling and setup, game start: 2 minutes
- Shuffling and deck search, mid-game: 15 seconds
- Starting the turn after opponent’s “end of turn” announcement: 5 seconds
- Considering the game position before playing a card: 10 seconds
The emphasis is mine, and I’d like to call attention to that subject. Searching your (or your opponent’s) discard pile does not advance the game state. That is part of your 10 seconds. For that reason, I encourage you to keep a working knowledge of your opponent’s discard from the very beginning of the game. Please realize that sitting around engaging in “1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 …. 10 — Time’s Up!” is a good way to be cited for rushing. It is, at times, appropriate to allow your opponent extra time — I guarantee the fastest player still violates these guidelines on occasion.
That’s going to close my discussion on Sableye in the BLW–BKT format. It’s a strong contender, but you need to keep aware of a variety of moving parts if you wish to see success. It’s high on my option list for sure as we head toward Regionals, as it’s hard to ignore such a spread of 50/50+ matchups.
Quaking Chaos: Seismitoad/Giratina (BLW–BKT)
It’s a bit ironic that my other top choice at the moment has one of the worst Sableye matchups in the game. Unlike Toad/Crobat, which features a reliable way to KO Sableye, this relies on Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank to achieve the same effect. You obviously only get to use that combo 4 times under normal circumstances, and as such, the matchup is inherently poor. That Sableye will easily dismantle our supply of DCE is the nail in the coffin.
With that said, my advisory is this: if you expect high levels of Sableye, this is not a deck you should consider. Past that, however, I don’t worry about too many of this deck’s matchups. You lose a bit against Vespiquen when compared to Seismitoad/Crobat, but the edge in Seismitoad mirror is immense.
I’ll dispense with further discussion of matchups, as Brit Pybas wrote extensively on the subject the other day. I share his belief that the deck is among the top contenders for Regionals, and looking to the results in Virginia Week 1 to define the levels of Sableye Week 2 ought to hold. Moreover, I’ve found that I agree with his experience with Jirachi XY67 — it’s a theoretical problem, but realistically a minor nuisance in low counts.
Here’s where I’m at on the list:
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 42
Energy – 8
There’s not really a ton you can take in/out of any list for this deck and still have the same general concept left. Latios-EX is my favorite “tech,” per se, as there’re so many low-HP Basics in decks today. I think it could easily pick up a few wins over the course of a 9-round day, and with time such a large part of the Regional environment, the ability to win a quick game is something worth having. The deck has so many outs to searching Latios and enough Switch outs that I’m confident in rarely whiffing the KO when it’s there. Zubat, Pikachu, Joltik, Pumpkaboo, Oddish, Combee, and Sableye are what I came up with in my 20 seconds of thinking — there’s simply so much potential here for grabbing an advantage in the match.
The 2nd Flare Grunt is close to being a 2nd Xerosic, but I’m electing for Flare Grunt to have the extra option to disrupt basic Energy. Otherwise, I don’t believe anything about the list is especially notable, and Brit well-covered the merits of the deck, so I’m going to leave it here on Seismitoad.
On Point: Musings on BREAKpoint
In just over 3 weeks, I’ll be among the players turning decklists in featuring BREAKpoint for the first time. I recognize that many of us are busy preparing for Virginia, Anaheim, and St. Louis in earnest, but for those going to Florida or Portland, it’s essential to start thinking now. First, I’m going to just run through some cards and offer brief thoughts on them. Then, we’ll take a look at two ideas to come out of the new set for the Expanded format. The following are in set order.
Can’t see this being good. Some will insist on trying to make it work, and I wish them luck. You’d need to somehow accelerate Energy to use the 2nd attack, and I simply can’t see that working.
Offhand, this might be the most broken Ability in the game’s history. Shaymin UL made a career out of this effect … as a one-time use. The sustained ability to move any and every basic Energy around your board is crazy good. Ho-Oh-EX DRX is an obvious partner. Between this and Smeargle BKT, you could probably drop any attack you want in the course of a single turn.
However, its status as a Stage 1 BREAK — so, a poor Stage 2 — limits playability significantly. I almost believe using Archie to retrieve Golduck, then waiting only a single turn to evolve to the BREAK, is the better way to do this. Obviously, the same effect could be achieved by using Wally on a Psyduck, but if Ho-Oh were included, I think I’d lean toward Archie’s, as the Battle Compressor engine should already be included in that event.
It’s probably not going to be a world-beater in Expanded, and it may have to wait for Night March’s Standard rotation to see success there, but at some point, this Ability is too strong to not see some sort of play.
Yeahh — this is a waste. There’s no reason to run this card in a deck, unless you were already playing …
… but I don’t think anyone wants to do that. I’m aware of some hype for it, and Energy movement effects have always had a strange allure to this community, but the game is too focused on either 1HKOs or Energy denial at this point for stuff like this to matter.
This is another in a long line of interesting concepts that seem to have potential, but will probably come up short. Lightning is a poor Weakness to have, and the Energy-to-damage ratio is no better than the Colorless M Rayquaza-EX’s. It’s an intriguing card, but it’s inferior to another option that already doesn’t see a ton of play. There’s a ton of Water support in this set, admittedly, but I don’t believe it outdoes the Colorless support we’ve already seen. Simply an inferior option.
This is not Virizion-EX for Water. Much of Virizion/Genesect’s viability was in Muscle Band’s ability to help reach the two-hit key number of 170. Moreover, Verdant Wind was a hugely underrated aspect of the deck. Palkia offers worse damage output, worse attack cost, an iffy Weakness, and a poor 2nd attack. Virizion-EX doesn’t have a prayer in Expanded, and I’m not sure it would in Standard either. I’m inclined to believe the same holds true of Palkia.
Finally, something with positive potential. The HP is dreadful, but free retreat is always useful, as Darkrai-EX proved. In particular, I see potential with Vileplume/Regice — in either format. It may be a wise inclusion in Greninja BREAK variants as well, as the BREAK’s Ability is rather inflexible.
This is the kind of thing I wish we saw more often on Stage 1s. This singlehandedly alters the paradigm on Greninja XY variants, as the necessary swarm of the past is now a feasible reality.
Great inclusion in aforementioned Greninja XY variants. Not as revolutionary as you may think due to the issue of having to be Active, but nonetheless decent. 170 HP is enormous, however, and Max Potion ought to make that even more interesting. Unfortunately, probably not very good in Expanded, as Blastoise is pretty much the crème de la crème for Evolution shenanigans in that format.
Aside from being creepy, it’s probably going to see play in a few different respects. First, as Hypnotoxic Laser has proven, Sleep is a potent weapon. I played a Malamar-EX deck at Indiana States last year whose entire premise was inflicting automatic Sleep to counter the big decks in format. Paralysis has often been a strategy all its own at some points in the game, and Sleep offers a 50/50 chance at inflicting the same problems.
Thus, I can see this being played in Expanded wherever something like Keldeo-EX or Virizion-EX exists to counter its drawback. Additionally, Ninetales DRX is the sort of attacker that would love Hypno. In Standard, Darkrai-EX, which we’ll get to later, is another obvious partner.
This cannot remove Archie’d or Maxie’d Pokémon from the board. It’s not playable.
Meh. I’m not excited about Garbotoxin’s return, but as of right now, I don’t believe it really matters. There aren’t any format-defining Abilities at this time, unlike the last time Garbodor was released. At some point it’ll come into prominence, so pick your copies up, but right now, I don’t think it’ll see immediate play.
Could be wrong, but I think someone in the Japan offices likes Trevenant. This is an unbelievably valuable addition to the repertoire of Trevenant in every aspect. Dimension Valley makes Ascension resource-free, and Nervous Seed is a not to be overlooked against the likes of Seismitoad-EX and Yveltal. In general, Trevenant XY will probably be more valuable, but there will definitely be points in the game where commanding the extra Energy will prove useful.
Between this and Greninja, I believe we’ll finally see a BREAK see sustained success. It’s no coincidence that Evolution acceleration is the difference here (Frogadier, Phantump) when compared to the playability of the other BREAKs. I’m not sure what the ideal partner is for Trevenant yet, but I am reasonably confident using Silent Fear for an entire game isn’t going to be a winning strategy. I do have to concede, however, that Max Potion is remarkably attractive when you consider the effect Dimension Valley can have here.
Overrated. It’s a lovely gimmick to think about, but I don’t think you’ll find yourself wanting to devote two Energy attachments to it. Fighting decks have always had a way with consuming Energy attachments on primary attackers, and I can’t see a 2nd attachment here being viable often enough for it to matter. If there’s an attack truly worth copying, maybe this’ll fly in Golduck or something.
Retrieving Special Energy is always an intriguing prospect. I believe there’s a solid chance this sees play as a Maxie utility, but I’ve soured on it since my initial read — it probably isn’t a deck all its own. Bite Off is an excellent attack for taking cheap Shaymin Prizes, or, with some of the Fighting support, heavier EXs. Turbo Assault is the majority of this card’s potential for sure, however, and we’ll have to see how things shake out with it. The Retreat Cost is icing on the cake. It could become Night March’s answer to Bursting Balloon.
It might be a nice tech in Expanded Yveltal variants, but its prospect as a deck all its own is a bit iffy in both formats. Standard is where that possibility is more likely to manifest, and that’ll have to involve Max Elixir/Hypno/All-Night Party/damage modifiers. Initially, I’d say this is simply a clunkier Night March, but Bursting Balloon is a real issue for Night March. There’s a real possibility this could see play.
Both of these feel like nice fringe pieces in a greater strategy, but Megas are clearly not compatible with that concept. If Iron Crusher is to be a viable attack, it’ll have to involve things like Shield Energy/Max Potion/Steel Shelter/etc. Otherwise, the damage output is simply too minimal for me to believe this is a truly viable option.
Very intriguing card. Its primary issue is being a pseudo-Stage 2. In order to really work, I think this would need Wally, and that’s something I don’t think will fit comfortably in any list.
Very intriguing concept, and will probably make Startling Megaphone/Xerosic mainstays in the format. It’s pretty alarming that Eco Arm could make this an all-game presence, and truly, this could be the straw that breaks Standard Night March’s back. The key is staying competitive against other decks in addition to Night March, and that’s where space may start to erode on Bursting Balloon’s playability. I could see many States coming down to whether or not players elect to tech Bursting Balloon. It’s less of an issue in Expanded, where Night March is already somewhat on the back burner.
If you can figure out a reliable way to make this zero cards in hand by the end of the first turn of the game, there’s a conversation to be had here. The Red Card/Phantump (or general “Astonish” attack) trick is cute, but also not happening on turn 1 of the game. By then, your opponent has had time to put some things on the board, making your tactic less useful.
Given there isn’t a way to do it turn 1, this isn’t more than a minor annoyance to the Red Card’d player. If 1 useful card is drawn off the Red Card, all you’ve done is remove 3 other cards from an opponent’s deck. Novel idea, but hardly world-beating. If they draw 0 useful cards, they were going to draw dead anyway, so Delinquent’s effect is relatively null. I want to be careful, because there is value in Delinquent, but it’s not nearly what the hype has been.
I would contend that, contrary to popular belief, Night March barely cares about this card. The 10 damage is fairly inconsequential (Muscle Band’s 20 is much more relevant), so it’s the +40 HP we’re mostly gaining here. That’s fine and good, but on a 30/60 HP Pokémon, 40 more HP isn’t terribly important.
To me, the value here is in things like Fairy, mostly in pursuit of taking Night March out of 1HKO range. It’s the big non-Mega Evolving EXs that will enjoy this card more than Night March. Yveltal XY is licking its chops right now.
It’s relevant to a degree now, and I believe it’ll be very relevant in the future when Night March has seen the end of its days, but there aren’t as many places to abuse this as you may think. My favorite applications at this time are Darkrai-EX BKP and Manectric-EX.
Quite the card. Night March is salivating at the ability to Teammates for any 2 cards in its discard pile. Sableye is enjoying practically infinite applications of Life Dew. Seismitoad is very, very excited to be playing more than 4 Double Colorless. Archie’s Blastoise is thrilled to have a card that can be wasted prior to the Archie and turn into 4 Energy immediately afterward.
I think you get the point. This is a transformative card, and I believe we’ll see it impact the meta in profound ways starting two weeks from now in Florida. The issue is going to be figuring out that impact. Sableye has seen a good amount of hype as a result of the obvious uses for Life Dew abuse, but ironically, this may doom Sableye to the binder. The Seismitoad matchup was reasonably close before, but if they can elevate their 4 DCE to 6 copies, it’s probably a death knell.
This won’t fit in everything, but it’s safe to say this could transform resource management in a way only Lysandre’s Trump Card has done before. Obviously, the effect won’t be the same, but the ability to recycle things like Special Energy is an interesting choice of route for the game.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the myriad of options for use in BREAKpoint, let’s examine some concrete concepts:
Haunted Forest: Trevenant/Gengar (BLW–BKP)
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 34
Energy – 10
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Trevenant, and my team’s Worlds success this year is no small part of that. Admittedly, to construct this list, I started with that of mine from BCR–ROS and accommodated the addition of Trevenant BREAK as a viable attacker. That involved trimming the Gengar focus (Virbank City Gym, Silent Lab, a Gengar itself) in favor of Dimension Valley and the new tricks offered by BREAKpoint.
The 4th Float Stone was the difference between my and teammate Sean Foisy’s Top 8 list at Worlds, so perhaps I should’ve learned my lesson, but I elect for an AZ instead. Absol ROS is your way to change the math around with the BREAK, and AZ plays into that.
The Energy count is dangerous, which is part of why I chose Super Rod over Sacred Ash. Dimension Valley allows me to feel somewhat comfortable cutting to 3 Double Colorless, which allows the 5th basic Psychic. That’s valuable in dealing with nuisances like Jirachi XY67, which is part of the reason for cutting Mystery’s influence as well.
Things I want in here include a Max Potion, the 2nd Absol, and 2nd Lysandre. I’ve elected to forego the last of those simply because its value is greatly diminished without Virbank in the deck. Formerly, Lysandre + Muscle Band + Virbank made for a dead Shaymin-EX after Dark Corridor’s effects. With Virbank out of the picture, I believe it may be more valuable to use Trevenant BREAK in the (albeit, slower) Shaymin-removal role.
As Erik Nance covered earlier this week, Bursting Balloon is another intriguing option available to Trevenant players. I personally would rather stick to having an attacker like Gengar at the moment, but the pure Trevenant BREAK idea is something I’m going to have to explore in the fairly near future.
That’s about all I’ve got on this early list. I’m easy to find if you want to ask any other particulars.
March On: Night March Reborn (BLW–BKP)
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 35
1 Town Map
Energy – 7
Lots of uncomfortable cuts here. Banette is the best answer to the Bursting Balloon phenomena available, though the problem then is obviously your own Tools. I’ve elected to keep it to simply a Float Stone in this list (with AZ as an auxiliary Switch card for dealing with times when Banette is in play), dispensing with the normal suite of Muscle Band/Silver Bangle. It’s not ideal, but it’s unfortunately rather necessary to counter Bursting Balloon.
Puzzle of Time is pretty much where this deck is going to draw its viability at this point. Concerningly, Seismitoad is a near-disaster for this list. Unfortunately, there isn’t a vastly superior alternative. The list is still very much a work in progress, so I’m not going to dwell too much on card counts. Mainly, I just want to point out the inclusion Dowsing Machine. With Puzzle of Time’s advent, I can see plenty of circumstances where you’re using Dowsing Machine to find the second half of that duet to retrieve DCE/whatnot.
There are obviously other options for playing this deck. Offhand, something employing Milotic/Target Whistle/Pokémon Catcher, like what saw success late in Standard Cities, might be decent. Using Life Dew with Puzzle of Time is potentially a very legitimate approach to trading with the Bursting Balloon folks. Garchomp BKP is yet another potentially legitimate option. Notably, Garchomp figures to greatly aid the Seismitoad matchup by providing an intermediary attacker (with free Retreat to boot) that can restore Double Colorless to the board.
The 1HKO power of this deck probably isn’t going anywhere soon, and I’ll be working with a great number of Night March concepts going into Florida. I’d suggest you attempt to do the same, as the deck’s sheer power is always going to be something to build on.
That’s just a taste of what BREAKpoint figures to offer to the Expanded format. I believe the potential applications in Standard are much greater, but for now, that obviously doesn’t matter. I look forward to exploring that issue in March as we head into States.
Like many players, I’m currently trying to balance preparing for two formats with those silly non-Pokémon commitments. It’s staggering how many options there are to consider, and for that reason, my parting advice heading into any of these upcoming Regionals is to be comfortable with your deck choice. I normally ignore that notion in favor of a purely analytical choice, but with an eye turned toward Florida already, it’s simply not viable to dedicate the crazy amount of time required to test the ~20 decks that could be considered “viable” in either Expanded format. It’s in formats like these that I believe looking to consistent, raw power (or disruption) is something to be rewarded.
As always, if you have any questions, the forum discussion thread or a PM are great ways to reach me. If you have any feedback on any aspect of the article, I similarly invite you to reach out. Otherwise, I’ll see some of you in St. Louis and Florida — hopefully the latter in the comforts of warmer weather.
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