“Lonely is the Night March when there’s no one left to call
You feel the time is right — say the writing’s on the wall”
Hello SixPrizes readers! My name is Henry and I have been playing the Pokémon TCG competitively for roughly five years now. I’ve won numerous City Championships, four State Championships, and one Regional Championship along with three Regional Championship Top 8’s. At US Nationals, I’ve had two Top 32’s, and at Worlds I’ve had two Top 32’s. I typically play meta decks but with various techs in order to cover most matchups. Enough about me — I am excited to give you guys my perspective on the game!
Briefly, I want to discuss shuffling because it is becoming quite the popular topic within the community. I also want to share my Top 8 run at the Maryland State Championships. Additionally, I am going to share my thoughts on the current state of the meta along with giving you guys a few decks that fair well against the one and only Night March.
Random Thoughts on Randomizing
Is there a proper way to shuffle? This has been a question on my mind ever since I started playing the game … wondering if my shuffling caused this terrible dead-draw or how my hand ended up so perfect. I could never figure out what was the best process to randomize my deck.
If you really want to find the perfect technique, go ahead and do all the numerous statistics and probability problems in order to get to as few dead-draws as possible. However, no matter what the outcome is, I am thoroughly convinced you will always have that one game that makes you want to throw your deck across the room. Making your deck as consistent as possible should be your first task before worrying about shuffling, when trying to reduce dead-draws.
If you have ever seen me play, I riffle shuffle and bridge — a lot. It is a bad habit of mine due to wear and tear on the cards, but for better or worse, it has become most comfortable for me. After that I usually include one seven-pile shuffle followed by a couple of cuts and then hand my deck to my opponent to cut. Over the years, I’ve decided this is the right method for thoroughly randomizing cards for me.
My advice to you is not to overthink it. There is no magic trick in when it comes to shuffling perfectly. Most importantly, shuffle the way that feels most comfortable for you. Being comfortable is an important element that I can not stress enough because it reduces nerves and helps with concentration on the game at hand.
Maryland Top 8 Recap
“A Greener View from the Dark Side”
Pokémon – 24
Trainers – 32
Energy – 4
I piloted this variant of Night March at the Maryland State Championships on Week 1 to a Top 8 finish — and in the process managed to snag my Worlds invite. Fellow SixPrizes writer Alex Hill convinced me that this was the play for Week 1 and this is the list that I ended up playing with.
There are a few cards I want to discuss that might seem a little odd:
Ever since the errata of this card a little over three years ago, it hasn’t seen much play, if any at all. Even though a heads with this card has the power to turn a game on, well, its head, people have not played it due to its 50% chance of being useless.
I believe that with the release of Puzzle of Time the card much more viable. I also believe that you should only use Pokémon Catcher in faster, more aggressive decks that play Puzzle of Time and/or Trainers’ Mail. In the games I played where I flipped successfully, it nearly secured the game for me — and I think that people underestimate its power in decks such as Night March and Entei.
Going into Week 1, I wanted to have a list that could adapt to most matchups since there was no definite image of the format. This is why this card is in the deck. It gives you the upper hand in the Entei matchup which I ended up meeting and defeating in Swiss.
Over the course of the tournament, I realized that Megaphone is also very important in situations where you need to Knock Out an EX that has a Fighting Fury Belt attached. Without the help of this Tool-removing card, the knockout would not be possible.
These cards proved to have much more potential than I initially thought they would. The Parallel City was included mainly to get rid of the 2-Prize liability that is Shaymin-EX on your Bench. I also used the other side of Parallel City to reduce Entei’s first attack — which saved me a crucial knockout in the series I played.
Although it does resemble a Vespiquen deck at some points, this is Night March which is why I’ve included a copy of Dimension Valley. Pumpkaboo is usually the optimal Night Marcher to attack with due to Joltik’s low HP but without this Stadium it is nearly impossible to power up. I do not think that you need than one copy, especially due to the inclusion of Puzzle of Time.
3-3 Vespiquen, 3 Unown
I know what you are all thinking: “Why play Vespiquen when you already 1-shot everything? Why do you need Vespiquen for Jolteon-EX when you already play Target Whistle?” The reasoning behind the inclusion of Vespiquen is that it gives you a higher-HP attacker in certain situation such as where attacking with a Joltik would not be the optimal play. The 3 Unown are there to support Vespiquen and add extra draw support to the deck since it lacks normal Night March cards such as Trainers’ Mail or Acro Bike.
Vespiquen also helps with the Greninja matchup, as it hits for Weakness and is out of KO range for both Greninja XY and Greninja BREAK’s Abilities. Vespiquen also swings the YZG matchup into your favor because they do not 1-shot your Vespiquen with Yveltal XY’s Oblivion Wing. Although 90 HP does not seem like much at all, it is an astronomical difference from our 30- and 60-HP Night Marchers.
This deck actually has a lot of space for tech cards which is why it is one of my favorite decks. Some other options that you could put in are: bumping up to a 4-4 Vespiquen line, Town Map, Escape Rope, AZ, Trainers’ Mail, Xerosic. I considered all of these cards before the tournament and they all have a good reasoning behind playing them. If you are going to switch some cards, I would recommend playing a few games against the matchup they’re intended for before the tournament.
Over the course of the seven-round tournament, I played against a variety of decks, including Entei, Yveltal variants, Mega Manectric, Night March, and Raichu/Vespiquen. This was somewhat to be expected for Week 1 since the meta hadn’t really taken form yet. I ended up 5-1-1 going into Top 8 and was defeated by Christian Ortiz with Night March.
As simple as it might sound, the Night March mirror can be a lot more complicated than you might think. The three main tips that I will stress to you are:
- Never leave a Shaymin-EX on your Bench unless you have to.
- If you win the coin flip, choose to go second.
- Set the game up so that you can KO four of your opponents’ Night Marchers and one Shaymin-EX.
The reasoning behind going second is that you have the chance to get the first knockout since you can attack immediately. Also, if the matchup is played perfectly by both players and no Shaymin-EX are Knocked Out, you will win because you are ahead on the Prize trade.
Other than the mirror and a couple of other matchups the deck is pretty straightforward — just quickly blow through your opponents’ Pokémon until you don’t have any Prizes left. I think that this list is very solid for a meta that is all over the place but I can see dropping some of the “techy” cards for more consistency such as 3-4 Trainers’ Mail.
I will warn if you expect a large amount of Giratina-EX or Trevenant BREAK in your area, I would not recommend playing this deck along with most other Night March variants. I would however recommend playing this deck in an unknown meta.
Week Four, State of the Meta
We’re almost at the finish line. The final weekend of States is coming up and we all have a pretty good understanding of what decks have shown to be the most popular and successful — along with the ones that have failed to live up to their hype. Obviously Night March has made the biggest statement out of every deck. From a Night March player’s perspective, I can tell you that 90% of its matchups are as straightforward as it gets. Burn through your deck until you take 6 Prizes. Other matchups do involve a large amount of skill and a wrong decision could drastically swing the game.
Although Night March has dominated so far, Yveltal variants, Greninja BREAK, and Trevenant BREAK had the second-best representations during Weeks 1, 2, and 3 (respectively). These decks earned their spots in tier 1 and you definitely need to expect running into at least one of them going into this weekend.
As we approach Week 4, I do not think Night March is going to be the smartest play. It is very risky to say the least. Just looking at these results, Night March is popular in pretty much every state. People are going to continue to play the deck and people are also going to play the decks that hard-counter it.
Are you going to play the counter? Are you going to play the counter to the counter? Or are you going to play the deck everyone has their eyes on? These are the questions that I believe to be among the most compelling of competitive Pokémon TCG. A player might be the most skilled player to ever live, but if they show up to a tournament with a deck that loses to the majority of the field, they are not going to have a good day.
Personally, I think that playing the counter decks for Night March is going to be your safest play going into this weekend.
Although, if the meta in your area is all over the place and you do not know what is the most popular, I would recommend going with something that has decent matchups across the board such as Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade. Here is a reference list that Dylan Lefavour used to make Top 8 at the New Hampshire State Championships. I believe this deck has the ability to beat any deck in the format if every matchup is played exactly as it should be.
Anti-Night March Plays
Night March has two main weaknesses: Item lock and Special Energy denial. If the opponent can get the Night March player under Item lock on the first turn it could instantly secure the game. Although about half of the deck is Items, I still believe Special Energy denial to be the worse of the two weaknesses due to there being ways around certain types of Item lock. For example, against Trevenant BREAK decks you could use Lysandre or Hex Maniac to get around/stop Trevenant XY’s Ability and use Items. Against Seismitoad-EX decks, Night March players only need that one turn before Quaking Punch to burn through their deck and get to that magical 180 damage.
This being said, I think that the best decks to instantly get an easy win over Night March are Girantina-EX decks. I think that the two best variants of Giratina-EX are Seismitoad/Girantina and Reshiram/Giratina. They both operate differently, but in the Night March matchup they both share the same goal: Chaos Wheel till your opponent can’t attack.
I have narrowed my options for Week 4 down to Reshiram/Giratina, Greninja, and Trevenant. Here are the lists and explanations for the decks.
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
This deck saw some recent success in two States over the past two weekends and if I had to choose any variant of Giratina-EX, it would be this one. The goal of the deck is to use Chaos Wheel on the first turn possible and lock your opponent out of playing Items, Special Energy, and Stadiums for the rest of the game.
The ideal setup is to start a Reshiram, play a Giratina-EX on the Bench, use Turboblaze to put a R Energy on the Giratina, attach a Double Dragon Energy to the Giratina, place a Hydreigon-EX on the Bench, and either use a Max Elixir or another Reshiram + switching card to get the second R Energy onto the Giratina-EX in order to use Chaos Wheel. It sounds like a lot to pull off on turn 1 but with the help of Hoopa-EX, Shaymin-EX, and Trainers’ Mail, the turn 1 Chaos Wheel is not as hard as it seems.
This deck has a strong matchup against decks that rely on Special Energy along with decks that are focused around Mega Pokémon due to Giratina-EX’s Ability. When you’re matched up against decks like Night March and Vespiquen, the only thing you should be thinking about is using Chaos Wheel every turn of the game — but as for decks such as Mega Manectric, you might need to think about using a Hydreigon-EX’s Shred to get around Jolteon-EX’s Flash Ray attack.
There are a few other cards that can be included in this deck such as AZ, Flareon-EX, and Pokémon Center Lady. I think that all of them have great justifications for inclusion but I believe going for max consistency is the best route to take with this deck.
This deck struggles a little bit with decks that don’t rely on Special Energy, Tools, or Stadiums such as Greninja, Garchomp, Ho-Oh, and Yveltal variants. I would not recommend piloting this deck if you expect a majority of those in your area.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 36
Energy – 7
During Week 2 and Week 3-of States this deck showed how you do not need Pokémon-EX in your deck to do well at a tournament. Greninja can take advantage of those 2-Prize Shaymin-EX sitting on the Bench by using the Water Shuriken Abilities of both Greninja XY and Greninja BREAK to snipe them off. Greninja BKP’s Shadow Stitching stops your opponents’ Abilities which gives the deck another win condition against decks heavily revolving around Abilities.
I think that this deck is easily one of the the best in the format and that it has great potential. Since it is a new deck, players are still working out the kinks and trying to find the perfect list. I think that the deck has progressed a lot since before States. Previously, the deck was seen with a lower amount of Rare Candy and 4 Frogadier to take advantage of Water Duplicates; while now there are variants with more Rare Candy and cards like Trainers’ Mail to support Rare Candy.
Also with Night March doing so well, there are 2 Jirachi in the deck to remove their Double Colorless Energies. Against Night March, Greninja has a problem being able to keep Greninjas out because they are Stage 2’s and Night March can Knock them Out pretty easily. With the addition of Jirachi, this gives you a chance to set up Greninjas on the Bench while removing Energy which makes your Night March matchup much more manageable than before. I also included a Xerosic in case your opponent has a Special Energy on the Bench that Jirachi cannot get to. Xerosic can also be used in situations where you need to remove an important Tool such as Fighting Fury Belt to get a knockout.
This deck might not have an auto-win against Night March but it is buoyed by a large amount of good matchups across the field. Exceedingly fast decks and Grass-types are Greninja’s weaknesses in the current format, so if you expect a lot of Vespiquen variants in your area, I would be careful playing this deck.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 36
2 Head Ringer
Energy – 8
This deck easily saw the most hype going into Week 1 due to its sensational Winter Regional Championship debut but it ended up not seeing much play for some reason. Over the past two weekends we’ve seen the deck come back and it’s been doing very well all over the country. In almost every Top 8 of this past weekend there was a Trevenant somewhere in the mix.
I will give this deck the most annoying deck award for right now due to its turn 1 potential to Item-lock paired with spreading 30 damage to all of your opponent’s Pokémon with a single Energy and a Stadium. Not only that, but with the addition of cards such as Bursting Balloon and Head Ringer, your opponent is not going to have any fun playing a game against this deck.
This list that I provided is pretty straightforward but has a couple of cards that you might not see in every list you find. I put the Dedenne and the Head Ringers in to help with the Yveltal-EX matchup which is obviously the deck’s worst due to Trevenant’s Weakness to Dark. Trevenant also doesn’t have the best matchups against decks that play Rough Seas such as Mega Manectric. Although it has bad matchups, it has an exceedingly good matchup against the most popular deck in the format, Night March. It can shut off all of their Item cards instantly and due to the low HP of all of the Night March attackers, Silent Fear can take many Prizes in very few turns.
I would be careful when deciding whether or not to play Trevenant. Don’t let its absurdly good Night March matchup distract you from other decks in your area that could give the deck a hard time. Again, I would recommend playing this deck when there is a large amount of Item-based decks such as Night March and Vespiquen and when there are not much Mega Manectric or Yveltal variants.
Although this format has been run by Night March the past three weekends I think that we will see a decrease in its success coming up on this weekend. Going into this weekend I think you should prepare yourself for Night March and decks that are built to beat Night March. I think that as long as you feel comfortable with playing a deck and feel confident with its matchups against your meta, you’re destined to have a great last weekend of States.
I hope you all enjoyed my first article and I look forward to writing more content for you all. Best of luck at States this weekend!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.