Hello SixPrizes! Had your fill of Regionals yet? I was able to make it to Virginia Regionals in frigid Doswell almost two weeks ago, and it was quite the experience. Now we have Week 2 behind us, which means the new BREAKpoint Regionals are just around the corner. In this article I will be reviewing my deck for VA Regionals as well as how the tournament turned out for me. Since I am not going to any more Regionals this winter, I will not discuss last-minute plays for Florida and Oregon. I do not know what the play for Week 3 is, but I’m sure we will see some exciting new decks pop up like they did last year. Coincidentally, my deck from Virginia Regionals could carry over well to the Regionals with BREAKpoint, but I have not tested it for the new format.
After my Regionals recap, I will be discussing my thoughts on Standard as well as analyzing a couple of decks that I think are strong choices for States coming up in March and April. Since I have already started playing with the next Standard format while many other players are still focused on Expanded, I hope that some of this discussion will be unique and helpful.
The Play for VA
In the weeks leading up to Virginia Regionals, I considered every possible deck and card combination that I could think of. The Expanded format is unbelievably ripe with options and it was difficult to decide on one deck that could beat all of the top tier decks. While a few meta decks are similar in some ways, they are all quite different as well and it was difficult to pin down a deck that could deal with each and every one. This was reflected in the results, as the only rogue deck that made it to Day 2 was Eelektrik NVI while the field was otherwise flooded with well-known archetypes. In my last article I mentioned that I was expecting the field to be dominated by four specific decks but the meta turned out to be a bit more diverse.
By the Friday before the event, I had my choices narrowed down to Raikou/Eels/techs and M Manectric-EX/Garbodor. Eels was appealing because it could go 50-50 or better with everything besides some fringe decks (like Fighting/Bats) and its only real weakness was Hex Maniac. Manectric/Garbodor looked like a fantastic choice because testing revealed that it was favorable against every single relevant deck besides Yveltal/Maxie’s, which was about even. The problem with Manectric is that it was inexplicably clunky and seemed to draw poorly more than other decks. In case you are wondering about Manectric’s Vespiquen/Flareon matchup, it ran Tool Drop Trubbish, Zekrom BLW, 2 Tool Scrapper, and 2 Assault Vest. These cards were enough to make it slightly favorable. With prayers said and fingers crossed, I flipped to decide between the two. I couldn’t say if one was better than the other.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 34
Energy – 7
The goal of this deck is simple. Flood your field with Eels and use the speed and durability of the deck to beat your opponents into submission. Raikou is the main attacker. It is capable of taking KOs against the likes of Yveltal-EX, Flareon PLF, and Shaymin-EX. Pikachu-EX is your power-hitter against things like Keldeo-EX, Darkrai-EX, and sometimes Seismitoad-EX. This deck ended up being more difficult to play correctly than I originally thought. Because of the ability to control where your Energies are at almost all times, you need to perfectly manage all 7 Lightnings and think ahead. I did not do this as well as I could have due to a minimal amount of testing but got better at it throughout the tournament. In fact, I quickly learned that during your initial search it is important to check how many Lightnings are prized.
This list is notably different from the more popular Raikou/Assault Vest version that popped up out of nowhere. This deck is focused more on speed as opposed to bulk and a free Toad matchup. It’s also less oriented around consistency and includes various techs as you can see, but that’s not to say it’s inconsistent. One last thing, this concept was not actually my idea. Eels have been around for a while, but I got the idea when I played against someone on PTCGO randomly right before Regionals. I thought it was interesting and went to work on my own list. To conclude, the deck just works very well.
Raikou is the main attacker, but it’s not the only attacker. Raikou effectively has 140 HP and a damage cap of 190. Usually you will be using Thunder Lance for 110, and the highest amount of Energies I ever put on it was 5 to KO another Raikou. It is all around a solid card and is useful in nearly all situations. It conveniently hits for Weakness against one of the most prominent decks in the format (Yveltal). It walls Toad nicely and trades well with it. It is your go-to attacker against Flareon and you can trade KOs for the most part. Whenever possible you should use Thunder Lance to take cheap KOs on Shaymin-EX.
The other Raikou decks wanted to minimize their use of Pokémon-EX and tried to make opponents KO 6 non-EXs. This makes sense, but I felt like the deck needed 1HKO power. Piling 6-7 Energies on Raikou is not consistently viable when you are looking for big hits. Pikachu turned out to be quite useful. Some opponents were not aware of what Pikachu-EX did, so the surprise factor was nice as well. For 4 Energies, Overspark does 200 damage! This is much better than Raikou’s 130 damage for the same price even though you have to discard the Energies with Pikachu.
This deck is focused on speed and I rely on Shaymin to be able to consistently set up multiple Eels by my second turn. Shaymin was always useful and I found 3 to be just the right amount. Since this deck runs Sky Field, you will frequently end up discarding Shaymin anyway, which mitigates its downside as a 2-Prize liability.
This is slightly out of place because there are no damage modifiers in this deck. This means that Toad will only be hitting for 30 damage. Seismitoad-EX is the key to the Sableye matchup. With the 2 Scrappers, the Keldeo, Eels, and Toad, there is no way this deck should lose against Sableye. Quaking Punch shuts down nearly all of Sableye’s options. Rush In with Float Stone gets around Confuse Ray. Tool Scrapper gets rid of any early Head Ringers or opposing Float Stones. Dynamotor replenishes any Energies lost to Team Flare Grunt. All you do against Sableye is Quaking Punch until you win.
This quirky tech is seen by some as a gimmick not worth the space. However, I found Magnezone able to pull its weight and it greatly improves your matchup against two of the most popular decks. If you go first against Toad/Bats or Vespiquen/Flareon, you can reliably get a T2 Dual Bullet to Knock Out two Basics. This is huge because by killing two Zubat, you are effectively blocking 100 damage from the potential Evolutions, plus more if they scoop the Bats up to reuse those Abilities. Against Vespiquen/Flareon, they usually do not bench many attackers on the first turn, so Dual Bullet can go a long way in disrupting their game plan. While Magnezone doesn’t work against much else, it is a strong silver (dual) bullet.
Keldeo is so essential to the deck that I wanted to fit in a second one. The deck can operate with just Float Stone on Eel if Keldeo is unavailable, but having Keldeo in play is always preferred. Keldeo is important especially against Seismitoad-EX and Sableye decks because Rush In can negate Special Conditions. Keldeo hugely improves overall mobility and I always enjoyed having Rush In + retreat as an option.
While N is great and I used it at least once a match on average, it is only preferable late game. Early to mid game, I always want to be using a different Supporter.
With a deck that always has a full Bench and runs Sky Field, Colress is an obvious inclusion. I only play 1 because I still prefer Sycamore early game and cannot cut anything else, especially cards for the early game, for more Colress.
Hex Maniac completely turns the Blastoise matchup from unfavorable to favorable. With Battle Compressor and VS Seeker, it is easy to access Hex Maniac. It also comes in handy against other Eelektrik decks, Archeops NVI, and Bats.
These cards are staples. They are simply to accelerate your first two turns and provide consistency. These cards are amazing to have early game and they are what makes this deck fast and efficient. It may seem like I went heavy on the search cards, but keep in mind I want to have 3 Eels out by T2 every game.
First and foremost, I opted to run 2 Scrappers to seal up my Sableye matchup as a near auto-win. As soon as I use Quaking Punch and they cannot activate Garbotoxin, I basically win right there. Scrapper also has utility in the Manectric/Garbodor matchup by allowing me turns to use Dynamotor by deactivating Garbotoxin. Another major use for Tool Scrapper is in the Beevees matchup. It can remove Life Dew which gets rid of their advantage in the Prize trade.
Finally, Scrapper removes Head Ringers on my side, which is annoying for Keldeo-EX because Keldeo ideally has Float Stone for the Rush In + retreat combo. Of course, Scrapper gets rid of random other Tools like Muscle Band. Nearly all decks run Tools of some sort.
People wonder why I don’t use another Stadium like Rough Seas or Tropical Beach. I wonder why people even suggest these! While playing, I always was glad to have Sky Field. When I couldn’t find it, I always wished I had it! This deck wants to have at least 3 Eels in play, the Keldeo, usually around 2 Shaymin-EX that were used to establish the board, a Raikou or 2, and possibly a tech attacker. Sky Field allows you to keep all the necessary Pokémon in play. The other Stadiums don’t even work that well, unless you are using Rough Seas and Raikou against Seismitoad-EX.
Here is a summary of how my rounds went during the first day of the tournament. I do not remember nearly enough to provide detailed accounts of each and every match, though I will talk about some highlights and interesting parts before moving on.
R1: Seismitoad-EX/Bats — LL
R2: Yveltal-EX/Maxie’s — WLL
R3: Pyroar FLF/M Houndoom-EX — WW
R4: Seismitoad-EX/Crobat — WW
R5: Vespiquen AOR 10/Vileplume AOR — WW
R6: Seismitoad-EX/Manectric-EX/Bats — LL
R7: Entei AOR 15/Reshiram-EX — WW
R8: Flareon PLF/Vespiquen AOR 10 — WW
R9: Accelgor DEX/Vespiquen AOR 10/Wobbuffet PHF — WW
Round 1 was close. I think the Toad/Bats matchup is about even. Round 2 is where I left feeling robbed. I took a convincing Game 1, and lost Game 2 because of consecutive Maxie plays for both Archeops and Gallade. I could not find my Evosodas and my Hex Maniac was prized. Game 3 I got Quaking Punched on my opponent’s first turn and I think he N’d me into a hand of all Items. I could not do anything for the entire game but draw pass until Quaking Punch slowly took 6 Prizes for my opponent.
The two Fire decks were not too challenging, though I did have a close first game against both of them. Pikachu-EX put in the work during those rounds. I got incredibly lucky against the Vileplume/Vespiquen deck but this was immediately offset by getting equally unlucky in Round 6 against my friend Justin Boughter. In both games against VileVesp, my opponent went first and established anything and everything. This included a T1 Vileplume with Float Stone and multiple Vespiquen. However, in the first game he left himself with a thin deck so I decked him out by flipping numerous Thunder Wave heads. In the second game, he had to discard 2 DCEs on his first turn and I drew perfectly. I was able to Hex early on to play a turn of Items and then I was able to Lysandre up his only Vileplume and KO it with Pikachu-EX.
In Round 6, I flipped a crucial tails on Sleep while Silent Lab was in play, then missed Sky Field off a Colress for 10 with a somewhat thin deck and 2 Fields remaining there. I followed this up by going on tilt and misplaying for the loss. Game 2 I dead-drew and lost in a few turns, though I got to use Secret Sword for 50! In Rounds 4 and 8, Magnezone-EX helped out a lot. In Round 9, everyone was tired and my opponent and I were both doing some silly things. I don’t remember much about that match except that I was able to Lysandre around Wobbuffet way more than I should have and made some sleepiness-induced minor gameplay errors.
I was rather despondent after losing Round 6 because I believed that knocked me out of Day 2 contention. I started 0-2, started to win out, but then dropped to 3-3. However, after winning out from there, I somehow squeaked in as the 32nd seed! That was exciting and erased all the tiredness from me.
While the record does not reflect it, I do believe the Flareon/Vespiquen matchup is close to even or slightly favorable for Eels. The first game of the day was close and fun. I eventually lost because when I needed Tool Scrapper to use against Life Dew they were both discarded already. In Game 2 of Round 10, I dead-drew and lost in a few turns without doing much of anything. Rounds 11 and 12 were against favorable matchups. Those decks did not have much hope of beating a pure Lightning-type deck even with Hex Maniac.
Round 13 was the round of the tournament. Props to Rahul Reddy for a long, close, well-fought battle. While the Vespiquen matchup is predominantly luck-based, it is close and does require some skill on the part of both players. I took the lead in Game 1 but fell to Hexes later on and a heartbreaking Computer Search topdeck from Rahul. Game 2 was full of uneventful trades and I took that one. Game 3 was crazy. It was also full of trades and I got a mid-game Magnezone-EX double-KO on two Combee which was huge. An awkward situation arose where I did not know what exactly was in my opponent’s 4-card hand besides a Shaymin-EX, and I did not know what was in his 4-card deck.
I was presented with two options: N for 2 or Hex. I went with the N, which was the wrong call because 5-of Rahul’s 8 cards left were outs to win the game. I needed him to draw the exact three dead cards to lose, out of his 2 cards from N and his topdeck. As expected, he drew what he needed and won my closest match of the tournament. If I had Hexed, I would have had a 75% chance to win the game because he would have not been able to use Shaymin and would’ve needed the last VS Seeker from his 4-card deck. What have I been saying to myself since? “I should’ve Hexed!”
My last round was fairly laid-back because we knew each other and could not possibly make top cut. My techs such as Magnezone-EX, Pikachu-EX, Seismitoad-EX, and Hex Maniac all contributed to my win there, while my opponent could only attack with Raikou and Eelektross PLB. When I went second in Game 1, I managed to get a crucial T1 Hex Maniac, and closed the game out with an N to 1. It was a harrowing first game, and Game 2 did not even come close to finishing.
I thought that my record would be enough to guarantee a Top 16 finish, but I bubbled at 17th! This cost me a few packs and 20 CP, which I am not too concerned about. However, it was ironic that I actually did not bubble at 33rd on Day 1 (as I have at two World Championships), but instead bubbled on Day 2 at 17th.
I realize that the format of VA Regionals is no longer being played, but I do think the tournament report was worthwhile to include if only for entertainment. I also included it because Eels is most likely still going to be relevant in BREAKpoint’s Expanded format. If you are looking for that last-minute play for Week 3, this deck might just be it! Sableye is being hyped, and Sableye is one of this deck’s best matchups!
Back to Standard
The next major tournament series coming up are S/P/Ts, otherwise known as States, Provincials, or Territorials depending on where you live. I think I got that last one right anyway. Week 1 for these in the US are already less than a month away, so it’s time to get practicing if you are not participating in any more Expanded events! I’ve got two decks that I am fond of for this upcoming format, and the fact that they both are based around a Turn 1 Item lock is purely coincidental.
Pokémon – 28
Trainers – 28
Energy – 4
I named this deck “The Grinch” because they are both mean and green. “VileVesp” gets old after awhile and is not original. Going second against this deck steals your happiness, just like the Grinch. After seeing this deck in action for the first time at VA Regionals, I realized how powerful it can be. The deck becomes even better in Standard because it loses only Mew-EX, Exeggcute PLF, and Computer Search, all of which are minor losses. The deck itself stays nearly the same.
The goal of the deck is to get a first turn Vileplume and some Vespiquen if you can. You want to play Forest of Giant Plants as soon as you can in order to make this setup happen. You also need to put a Float Stone on Vileplume to avoid having it Lysandre’d. On your first turn you want to explode and get yourself set up to win the game within a few turns while your opponent struggles just to breathe under Item lock. This deck is difficult to play correctly and takes some practice. This deck is rewarding though, as its explosive first turns are fun to play through and put tons of pressure on your opponent.
You are probably familiar with this card by now. While its usual partner is Flareon, this version has seen some play recently after being popularized by Andrew Wamboldt. Vespiquen is the main attacker, so you need to have them maxed out. Even with a full 4-4 line, you do not want to discard Combee or Vespiquen unless you absolutely have to. With Forest of Giant Plants, you can get Vespiquen attacking as early as Turn 1 quite easily. Burning through your deck quickly to get a Turn 1 Vileplume also has great synergy with Vespiquen because you will end up discarding many Pokémon that can be used to power up Bee Revenge.
I will be exploring the possibility of running a thinner line to include other Pokémon and relying a bit more on Revitalizer. For now though, a 4-3-3 line works great. It is thick enough to get a T1 Vileplume reliably, but I do not believe a 4-4-4 line is needed because you only ever want one Vileplume out. The rest of the line can be discarded as Bee Revenge fodder.
Since this deck burns through the deck so often and goes through so many cards, you sometimes will have to discard things and end up wanting them back later. Bunnelby can recover anything, or it can even mill your opponent in a pinch. Bunnelby won’t be used too often though, and it functions more as a safety net. If you do not believe you will have a need for Bunnelby in any given game, you can always discard it to strengthen Vespiquen.
A 5th attacker is a luxury that this deck can afford. Although I only run 4 Energies, sometimes a Basic attacker that is not Vespiquen can come in handy. It is particularly useful when you prize or discard Combee and/or Vespiquen and find yourself in need of another attacker.
2 Float seems to be the more common count, but I believe 3 is optimal. You always need to find one on your first turn to stick on Vileplume. Additionally, if you open something like Shaymin-EX, Bunnelby, or Unown (half of your Basics), you will sometimes require a Float Stone on that Pokémon too! This is more than enough justification for me to run 3 Float Stones.
Revitalizer is a quirky new Item card from from the Generations spin-off set that fits into this deck nicely. Well, that’s a bit of an understatement. Revitalizer is amazing in this deck! It combines well with Battle Compressor, and makes the Turn 1 Vileplume more achievable than ever. You don’t even have to worry about which Vileplume pieces to leave in the deck and which ones to discard. As long as you know Revitalizer is available, you can simply discard all of your Gloom and Vileplume when you get the chance. Revitalizer can also recover Vespiquen that may unfortunately end up discarded.
I only included 2 Revitalizer because it is an Item card that will not be used past the first turn if all goes well. I can’t see more than 2 being of use during the first turn. Also, Generations is not currently legal. It will be legal in time for States, but if you have a League Challenge or something in the meantime, you cannot use Revitalizer. I would replace them with a G Energy and a Red Card if you plan on playing this deck in any tournaments before Generations becomes legal.
Silent Lab is a sneaky tech and it is included with 3 main Pokémon in mind. Aegislash-EX, Yveltal BKT, and Wobbuffet PHF are all Pokémon with disruptive Abilities that could otherwise cripple this deck. While I concede that a 1-of Stadium is not the most consistent thing in the world, it will get the job done if you have it at the right time. This is not too much to ask for due to the speedy nature of the deck.
Wobbuffet’s Ability turns off Vileplume’s, which allows use of Items. You can take advantage of this by using your own Items, and then by playing Silent Lab to turn off Bide Barricade, which reinstates Item lock. Aegislash-EX blocks all attacks with its Mighty Shield Ability since this deck runs exclusively Special Energies. Silent Lab says no to that. Hopefully your opponent will not have another Aegislash along with a Stadium! Finally, there is Yveltal. Yveltal’s Fright Night is annoying because it allows your opponent to Lysandre-stall Vileplume. Fright Night renders Float Stone useless, but Silent Lab comes to the rescue and allows Vileplume to once again retreat for free.
Everything else in the deck is included to speedily and consistently attain a Turn 1 Vileplume lock while tossing Pokémon away for Bee Revenge. Bee Revenge should be able to reach high numbers fairly easily with this engine. I only run 4 DCE as my Energies because I don’t feel a real need for any basic Energies, though I admit one Grass would be nice for Bunnelby and Miltank.
This deck is a force to be reckoned with. I can see it being played for Florida and it is certainly poised to do well at States. It is incredibly fast and the opportunity to attain a first turn Item lock is so devastating to opponents. Although States are still a month away, I could see myself running this deck for at least one tournament.
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 42
4 Red Card
Energy – 10
Here is another deck that is dedicated to a T1 Item lock! This deck abuses Wally and is built to get a first turn Item lock. While it is desirable to go first with this deck, going second allows you to ignore Wally and focus on establishing a Red Card + Silent Lab combo. Ascension can then be used which alleviates the need for Wally. This deck is all about disruption. Unfortunately, it is weak to Dark, which is a popular type to say the least. More testing against Yveltal will reveal if the sheer amount of disruption can offset the type disadvantage. I have faith that it can.
With the combination of Red Card, Silent Lab, and Forest’s Curse, opponents will frequently be forced to dead-draw into oblivion. I do not have Trevenant BREAK in the list because I am not yet sure if it is worth the space. There is nothing I want to cut in this list as it is. Tree Slam is perfectly capable of carrying games. In a nutshell, the strategy is to intelligently use your vast array of disruption cards and Tree Slam until you win. Only the luckiest of starts by opponents can withstand the game-breaking combination of all of these disruption cards.
These are the only Pokémon in the deck. Trevenant’s incredible Ability and usable attack are all you need to win the game. I do not run any Shaymin-EX because they would clash with Silent Lab and allow my opponent to use Lysandre to break the Item lock. Speaking of Lysandre, you never want to leave Phantump on the Bench unless you are fairly certain that your opponent does not have Lysandre or if you have no other choice to avoid “Benching out.” You always want to bench Phantump and use Wally on the same turn to prevent your opponent from Lysandre’ing out of the Item lock.
In classic Toad style, this deck runs Energy-removing Supporters just in case your opponent does manage to get some Energy attachments under the lock. They add to the disruption factor of the deck and are extremely useful in nearly every game. Since Trevenant does not often take 1HKOs to wipe out Energies, these Supporters are necessary.
Quad Trees, like The Grinch, has the potential to run through its deck rather quickly. Judge is a recyclable source of deck replenishment, which helps prevent you from decking out. It also can serve as a Red Card or just all-around solid shuffle-draw option. I normally am not a fan of Judge in my decks, but it definitely makes sense here.
With so few Pokémon, it is important to be able to recover them! Ideally your opponent will be immobilized and unable to attack, but that does not always happen and people do kill trees.
Another similarity to my previous deck is that many cards are run in high counts for the simple sake of consistency. Everything that I have not gone over so far is included to either disrupt more or draw more, both of which increase the overall consistency of the deck.
I cannot stress just how potent a Turn 1 Item lock is, especially when going first. All decks at least struggle to function without there Items if they do not straight up dead-draw. Silent Lab and Red Card add a whole new level of disruption that is rather sinister. If you ever find yourself up against this deck, you might just want to kill some trees.
Well, there you have it. My time in Virginia was eventful and enjoyable, so I hope it was an interesting read! I am excited to work on those two Standard decks some more because I believe that they could very well be the best decks for States. They are both working well for me so far, so don’t be afraid to try them out! Thank you guys for reading, and rate or comment with any thoughts and questions!
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