So we didn’t go to Disney World, but we went to Florida.
We had committed to people, basically as early as January, that if Sableye wasn’t banned, we were running it. We have been playing Sableye aggressively since its inception, we thought Puzzle of Time made it more broken, and I have talked before about how, as a team and a family, we desire to play broken decks. We benefitted disproportionately playing Toad/Puff and Exeggutor before Lysandre’s Trump Card was banned. If a card was going to get banned coming out of Regionals, we wanted to make sure that we were the guys playing that card.
Let me give you the tournament report and then I will give you the decklist and talk about the matchups.
R1: Vileplume/Regice (Melike K.) – WT – 1-0
R2: Latios Donk (Boden H.) – WW – 2-0
R3: Mega Manectric/Garb/Wobb (Georgia H.) – WW – 3-0
R4: Toad/Bats w/ Scoop Up Cyclone (Haley M.) – LL – 3-1
R5: Fairy Giratina (Bailey P.) – WW – 4-1
R6: ??? (Christian M.) – ID – 4-1-1
T8: Sableye/Red Card/Delinquent (Malachi F.) – WW
T4: Yveltal/Toad/Archeops/Gallade (Landon F.) – LL
I always tell you that Juniors is pretty challenging. Here is another example of how with fewer rounds, the variance and competitiveness can be brutal: 4-1-1 was necessary to ensure you don’t whiff cut (one 4-2 bubbled in), but in six preliminary rounds, my son faced four players that eventually made Top 8. All three of the top 3 NA players were in attendance. Very challenging tournament.
R1: Kind of a nightmare matchup and my youngest reported that my oldest was losing terribly, but we prevailed at the end and I was told that we got Garb out quickly the first game before Vileplume hit the field, but our opponent was reticent to scoop the game so my son drew it out for 48 minutes before decking her.
R2: I know you are looking at these results and saying, “How does Sableye complete so many 2-0’s in 50 minutes?” Gotta love Juniors. My son almost got donked Game 1, but after that, both games went smoothly. Boden is a top 20 NA player who makes cut — this was his only loss in Swiss.
R3: Georgia H. is a skilled player currently sitting at 30th in NA rankings. Unfortunately for her, a combination of bad starts and heads on Crushing Hammers resulted in her taking 1 Prize in two games. She never got off a Turbo Bolt. This is her only loss in Swiss.
R4: Toad! Toad! Toad! Worst part: My son opens Game 2, only Supporter is Ghetsis, plays it, she has 2 Items, DCE, Sycamore, Rough Seas in hand. He whiffs Flare Grunt and draws 2 Items off the Ghetsis for 2, loses horrifically. Haley makes cut as well and loses in Top 8.
R5: This is a dream matchup for us. Bailey bubbles cut at 10th, one spot behind my youngest son, who goes 4-2 and whiffs cut at 9th.
R6: ID’ing vs. Christian Moreno, the #2 ranked player in NA, is an easy decision. Juniors are the best: After the top two tables ID, they then proceed to play “for fun” games of Pokémon to fill the hour.
T8: Oh god, the dreaded Sableye mirror with 75-minute best-of-three. I was glad I had a particularly long book to read. Malachi is a great player from Minnesota, so I am sure he was glad to be down in FL this weekend. He had recently taken 3rd at Ft. Wayne Regionals and is currently 10th ranked in NA, so he is a great player although we had beaten him as recently as VA Regionals where my son and Malachi played a Toad/Tina mirror battle. Malachi’s dad was very complementary of my son, saying that he had used a particularly clever combination of N and Colress to deck Malachi out just a card or two before he decked himself after both of them ran out of Energy. Further, his father highlighted to me that Malachi played Red Card and Delinquent, two cards that we had not included in our list, so Malachi probably had a deck better teched for the mirror. In spite of that, my son found a way to win. Our plan was to Ghetsis repeatedly and, as my son put it, “I Ghetsis’d so many turns back-to-back that I almost decked myself.”
T4: Landon Frank, #1 NA player. This year he has won two Regionals, taken 2nd at another, and Top 4 at yet another. I can’t say enough great things about what a skilled player he is and what a great year he is having. He builds a giant multi-Energy Toad and proceeds to run us over with it. There was one moment where my son made his play, when Landon had to bench a Shaymin-EX and Oblivion Wing some more Energy out of the discard onto his Toad with 3 DCE’s already in the discard and the lock came off for a turn. My son Lysandre’d the Shaymin-EX, played Team Aqua Base, and slapped a Head Ringer on the Shaymin-EX. Landon is able to draw into the 4th DCE to retreat the Shaymin and close out the game.
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 44
Energy – 5
This list has a lot to talk about. First, let me say that I realized something about myself in this process. As a Pokédad, I am a somewhat conservative deck builder: I don’t want my kid to say, “Oh, I lost because of bleh, that sucked,” where bleh could have been avoided by not trying to be too skinny in draw or overly techie. For example, while people had success at VA Regionals running a single Garbodor, we decided on two because if you need it, you need it. While my prior Sableye list had millions of 2-ofs, there were far more techs in this list, but it worked out OK.
Before I break down card choices, I also want to talk about the meta we anticipated and what the deck struggled with in testing:
- Primal Groudon: Many people considered running Groudon as a counter to Sableye. Confuse Ray was surprisingly helpful in this matchup.
- Mega Manectric: If they got a Turbo Bolt off, that was frequently terrible. Their win condition was cycling two Mega Manectrics, Turbo Bolting back and forth.
- Yveltal: If an Yveltal player got out Archeops, that could prevent us from getting out Garbodor, allowing them to benefit from the myriad of Abilities run in the deck. If they ran Toad, they could build a giant Toad.
- Toad/Tina: This deck was actually very manageable. It took Toads a long time to kill Sableye, but if they ever switched to Chaos Wheel, they typically lost all their Energy instantly.
- Sableye: We didn’t think many Juniors would want to run this because it was new and it did no damage.
- Toad/Bats: This was the worst matchup for us — and an incredibly popular deck. This was so terrible in our testing that we almost didn’t run Sableye.
Toad/Bats was the only deck that we could never beat in testing. It left us despondent because it seemed like a deck we needed to have a good matchup against. We tried to tech as hard as we could for it, but obviously we couldn’t get there.
Trubbish NVI is one of the best responses we had to Toad. The fact that we had to get Garbodor out to defeat Toad/Bats is one of the things that made the Toad/Bats matchup so much harder than Toad/Tina. Against Toad/Tina, you could use Garbage Collection to spam Flare Grunts. We would have loved to add a 3rd Trubbish.
If we hit Trevenant, Vileplume, Metal, Toad/Bats, or Yveltal, we needed Garb to win the game. We ran a single Hex Maniac to give us a turn to put the Tool on if we hit Trevenant or Vileplume.
This functioned as an out to draw if we needed it, while providing instant access to Hex vs. Vileplume or Trevenant, Ghetsis vs. the mirror, and Flare Grunts or Xerosics against Toad/Bats. That is a lot of value with a 1-Energy Retreat Cost, so the risk of Lysandre to stall the Junk Hunt was low.
We almost cut this to 2 to try and wedge in some Trainers’ Mails — an early build of this list had 4 Trainers’ Mails in an effort to create explosive starts for setting up quickly vs. Toad decks. Eventually they all got cut for techs. I confess, draw is thinner in this deck than our prototypical deck-building efforts.
We kept trying to add more to shore up the Toad matchup.
AZ is a security blanket, but the ability to replay Shaymin-EX or Jirachi-EX, clear Prizes off your board, and get bad Pokémon out of the Active is too good not to play. We were even able to use it to discard Life Dew off a Benched Pokémon, Puzzle for the Life Dew, and attach it to the Active.
This is our tech for Accelgor and other decks with a Sleep tech. My son loves this card; you may remember us declaring it MVP of PA States last year.
Some people advocate running 3, but we liked 4. With 4, you could discard 3 and then if you get N’d, draw one, Junk Hunt one, and be right back on pace. And if you did get N’d, the odds of drawing back into 2 were better with 3 in the deck. We wanted to have our cake and eat it too. And if you ever had a turn where you Puzzled 2× into your discard, you pretty much won the game.
Some people run 2, some run 4. We cut the 4th to make room for more Toad/Bats techs, but it is great to draw into a Seeker. Then you don’t have to use one of your Puzzle grabs for a Supporter, which gives you much more flexibility. 2 would be too few because having a Seeker and 3 Puzzles gets you 3 cards from your discard, a huge victory.
Battle Compressors are so good we didn’t want to run 2. Our feeling was that, generally, if we had a first turn where we played a Sycamore, played a Battle Compressor, and got a Float Stone on a Trubbish, then we would win. Incidentally, this was the same hypothesis that had us originally stocking our deck with Trainers’ Mail, but there you go. Every card that got cut went to help with techs for Toad/Bats.
The 4th seemed like “win more.” Michael Canaves advised us to grab the 4th because it is great to have a Hammer and 2 Puzzles in hand. Note the similarity in logic to our VS Seeker thinking? We ended up with 3 because if we were hammering like crazy, that was probably a good game. We were scared of Item lock and Primal Groudon.
This deck doesn’t run Bunnelby! With Puzzles, Bunnelby is no longer required. Now, if they have a bad turn, instead of grabbing Hammers, you grab Shovels. The ability to forestall the decision about what resources you want is liberating in this way.
2 Head Ringer
We added a second Head Ringer for the Toad matchup. As everyone knows, a Head Ringer is amazing.
With Puzzles, you don’t need Super Rod to get back resources — you just grab them directly. Super Rod is only there to make sure you don’t deck out. You can also address this with Puzzle and N, albeit it is slower. But knowing we had an alternate path gave us comfort that we could get by with a single Super Rod.
This was primarily for Groudon and Mega Manectric. If they didn’t bench stuff for us to Lysandre up, we would bench it for them.
5 D Energy
You see many, many lists play 6, but we thought we could get by with 5 because we have played a lot of decks where our only Energy was four DCEs (with Computer Search giving us an additional out to it) and yet we never had a problem drawing into it. In our testing and in practice at the tournament, 5 was never a problem.
So our deck was aggressively teched for Toad relative to other lists, I think, yet our only losses were to the blue slime of the TCG. Now, we never ran into the Primal Groudon matchup that is obviously meh and we didn’t play a straight Yveltal without Toad, but what can you do? Leave your thoughts on our list in the comments below!
We are bummed about States this year, with PA and MD scheduled for the same weekend, no other States near us for two weekends, and then VA and DE States on the same weekend. This means we probably won’t attend PA, where my oldest had his sole States win last year, and we will have to choose between VA and DE, both tournaments where my son Top 4’d last year. The schedule is unkind to the Mid-Atlantic region.
Thanks for reading! Also, I want to thank all of the people that came up to me and introduced themselves at Regionals and told me they enjoy reading this stuff. Thanks! Finally, props to our many friends that helped with our list: Jon Eng, Brit Pybas, Dean Nezam, Brandon Smiley, Zander Bennett, Jimmy McClure, Michael Canaves, Chris Taporco, and Russell LaParre. I am sure there are more that I am missing. We appreciate all of your input and helpful thinking! Also, I should thank SixPrizes: Many of these people are people that I have a relationship with thanks to my relationship with Adam and the SixPrizes team. I recognize that I am reporting on the big deal that happens among very small, very insignificant people. It is a big deal because I am invested in those little guys. And I appreciate everyone that has helped me help them.