Spring Sprang Sprung

In Defense of Pile Shuffling, Sleeper Hits, BREAKing Point, and Decks of FATE
Petal to the metal.

With Spring Regionals beginning this week, there has been the shift in everyone’s attention back to the Expanded format and at first glance, it does not seem like there are many new things to talk about. We got to preview the format at the end of Winter Regionals where decks like Trevenant BREAK and Primal Groudon-EX surged to the forefront of the metagame, while many hyped concepts and popular archetypes failed to excel with the addition of newer cards. However, I think that we will be surprised to see how things have advanced since then and I look forward to being able to compete.

Regionals have been no more than footnotes on my tournament résumé for this year as I made a fool of myself playing Archie’s Blastoise in the fall and succumbed to illness in the winter but generally speaking I think that these events are one of the best ways to gauge one’s skill as a player and I hope to be able to prove myself still competent despite not being as active this season.

In today’s article, I will split my attention between the BLW–GEN and BLW–FCO formats and try to best prepare everyone for any weekend of Spring Regionals. In general, many of the decks I would initially have covered have been discussed in great detail by my fellow writers this month and for that reason I will not be including lists for Night March, Yveltal, or a conventional Trevenant. Brandon Cantu and Mikey Fouchet’s lists for all of these archetypes are more than exceptional and so I will be making references to their lists.

In Defense of Pile Shuffling

However, before we get into the real meat of the article, everyone here at SixPrizes has briefly detailed their shuffling methods and I would like to do the same. For me, shuffling has always been somewhat of a difficulty as I have never quite been able to tackle bridge shuffling, among other things. For my entire life, I have been eluded by various basic motor skills and so some very rudimentary aspects of shuffling prove impossible for me and my preferred means to shuffle may seem a bit primitive. In fact, Curran Hill usually made a point of making fun of the way I shuffled when we used to prepare for Nationals and Worlds together and said I shuffled like a Junior — so perhaps parents reading will have a better visualization for what I am about to describe.

I usually begin with a rough amount of over-the-top riffle shuffling until I am satisfied with the amount my cards have been shifted around (though this satisfaction is mostly arbitrary as I have no number to riffles I adhere to and usually am not counting). From there, I usually do an 8-pile shuffle and then riffle a few more times. I do not think that the number of piles matters much though I like to choose a number where your cards become distributed in a way that makes it abundantly clear that you have 60 cards in your deck.

This way, it is easy to tell that your deck is all accounted for and that you haven’t accidentally included a 61st card or left a card or two in your deck box (both of these things have happened to me on numerous occasions).

I try to avoid the 5-pile as it has negative connotations with the double-nickel method which is clearly to be avoided but I think that 6, 8, 10, 12, and so on all achieve the same goal.

I will say that a lot of my justification for pile shuffling is done for peace of mind. I guess it may have to do with the roughness of my shuffling (I’m always breaking sleeves when I riffle) but something about riffling without pile shuffling does not strike me as a proper shuffle. I know the argument for why pile shuffling should be avoided but I’m not so sure that I completely buy it.

As Christopher Schemanske wrote, “… the community as a whole generally frowns upon choosing to not pile shuffle between games and looks upon it as a necessary part of randomization. Such a notion is simply nothing more than fallacious fluff — pile shuffling itself achieves nothing in terms of randomization, only even distribution.”

My issue with this is not that this sentiment is incorrect, but that I do not believe randomization on a human level to be any more than just a complicated order or distribution. This is an opinion I have carried for sometime now and mentioned to many of my peers both to contemptuous ridicule and various levels of agreement. I have even considered devoting an entire article to this theory (much to the disappointment of my decriers on the internet) but allow me to briefly attempt to explain:

I do not believe that randomization is something achievable through something as rudimentary as the shuffling of cards. Randomization is such a dense concept and exists similarly to infinity in the sense that we deal with it more as a concept than an actual truth. For instance, infinity itself is paradoxical and — depending on who you are reading — can be broken down into “actual infinity” or “conceptual/potential” infinity. The former being that infinity has a definite beginning and ending though conflictingly this never ends. The latter, however, never completes itself and thus we only understand it as a concept and not something completely comprehensible through our epistemological means.

So for instance, I can divide a number in half infinitely and I will never reach a number that cannot be divided in this way. But were I to attempt to use infinity as a thing-in-itself, mathematically, I would be unable to do so. Infinity minus infinity is still infinity and so on.

rsz_random_dice_clipartWith this in mind, “randomness” works in a very similar way. To be able to calculate “randomness” rejects the very idea that random is supposed to represent! It is a lack of predictability that does not follow a pattern and so any attempt to calculate this takes for granted the very definition of the concept. We use and calculate “randomness” as a means of convenience. It gives us a way to guess and predict the outcomes of certain events but this numbers are always about possibility. Each time I flip a coin, everyone knows that it’s a 50% chance for either outcome. But I could infinitely flip a coin and never get tails, so my calculations remain infinite though still not have any real bearing on actual affairs.

My final point here is that calculating randomness of a certain event is best done at a purely mathematical level. When trying to calculate the randomness of something physical like shuffling, there would be many, many more needed factors to consider than just basic statistics. I suspect that the degree to which your deck is shuffled is an amalgamation of radically different microcalculations involving things like temperature, the degree and angle that someone shuffles, the number of riffles combined with the physical deterioration of the cards and so many others, but simply put: using number alone to calculate randomness is only sufficient if numbers are the only things to consider. Shuffling is a physical activity and by necessity would be bound by physical law. What those are, I’m not sure but I hope that my point is becoming increasingly clear.

I’m sure this is a lot to take in, but I tried to make my argument as brief and clear as possible. I may not be 100% correct, but I truly believe that my thoughts are a move in the right direction. If this is the case, I am unsure why pile shuffling would be any worse than riffling since both merely represent various degrees of an order but never something wholly random and so the tl;dr is that as long a player has no knowledge of the order they create while pile shuffling, I don’t think there should be a problem with it as means for creating an objectively random order for your deck. I could talk about this stuff forever and so if you’re ever interested in learning more, please feel free to ask! I’d be more than happy to field questions in person or online. For now, that’s enough with this kind of thing; let’s move on to fun topics!

BREAKing Point (Decks for Weeks 1 & 2)


“Gimme two!”

The first two weekends of Regionals will still be held with our currently existing card pool and looking back at the results from Oregon and Florida, we can see that there was a real shift in the metagame. As mentioned previously, I do not want to discuss lists for many of the most popular decks, but I do still want to briefly mention some things in order to best prepare you for the competition.

I anticipate that Trevenant and Yveltal/Archeops will remain the most popular decks going into this weekend and so I would not advise playing a deck that loses to either of these. Every single list I see for either of these decks shares at least 55 cards and so it would be a safe assumption that any of your opponents with such decks will be adhering to these standards.

The most hyped deck from the new set was Sableye/Garbodor but almost all of the top decks manifested themselves as a means to counter its hype. However, I do not think that Sableye should be completely ignored moving into this week. I would not recommend it as a potential play because I think it greatly struggles with either of these decks along with Primal Groudon — but in the right metagame I would not be surprised if someone performs very well with the pesky Junk Hunter.

Currently, my top choice for this weekend would be Night March/Archeops. I think that it was greatly overlooked as a deck in Winter Regionals mostly because other Battle Compressor decks outshined it. However, I think that with the addition of Puzzle of Time, this deck gains a clear-cut advantage against any of its Battle Compressor brethren as it can easily include it into the list while still maintaining disruptive options in Archeops.

I posted a rough list last time and while my current list is essentially the same, I would like to assert that I think an inclusion Mew-EX or the new Mew FCO card in the final week is a mistake. I see both of these cards becoming more and more popular in current lists for Night March and I really do not think that either serve a purpose. Mew-EX is too much of a liability in a format as fast and hard hitting as our current one. It had utility in the past when the format was slower and it could be disruptive against Seismitoad or use Manectric-EX’s attacks.

Now, however, either Mew is at its best with the inclusion of basic Energy in the list but I do not think there is any reason to play more than 4 Double Colorless. Without basic Energy, Mew from Fates Collide is little more than a Pokémon with free retreat. When you already have multiple Float Stones in the list to avoid the Shaymin start, it just does not seem worth it to me. I am more than open to being proven wrong in this regard but I suppose only time will tell.


Pokémon – 16

4 Phantump BKP

4 Trevenant XY

3 Trevenant BREAK

1 Wobbuffet PHF

1 Mewtwo-EX LTR

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Jirachi-EX

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Juniper

2 Wally

2 N

1 Colress

1 Lysandre

1 Red Card/Delinquent


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Bursting Balloon

2 Level Ball

2 Float Stone

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search


4 Dimension Valley

Energy – 8

5 P

3 Mystery

The main purpose of this section is for me to discuss what I believe to be “sleeper” hits for this upcoming weekend and this iteration of the deck has been on my mind since State Championships. It is not much different than your conventional list but the inclusion of Crushing Hammer makes things somewhat different. If you’ll recall from my last article, I ran into a ton of Trevenant at the Kansas State Championships and was able to swiftly defeat all of them except for one that took a much more disruptive approach. Even while I was playing a Dark deck, the inclusion of Crushing Hammers and Red Card made things incredibly difficult to navigate in what should have been one of my easiest matchups. My series with that deck has inspired me to take this approach into Expanded and I think that it is worth considering.

The disruption that the Hammers provide helps this deck deal with many matchups. One clutch Hammer flip can make or break any game, especially against decks that are so reliant on Special Energy. Trevenant as a whole gets a huge boost in consistency with the reintroduction of Jirachi-EX and while this deck loses a little bit of consistency in order to fit Crushing Hammer, I think they are well worth it. The only matchup that it hurts you in is against the mirror but that matchup can be decided based on the first turn in most cases where the Hammers are almost a non-issue. I think that against Yveltal, this is your best “soft” solution and while it is not as “hard” a counter as trying to include something like Jolteon, it works against almost everything and will rarely be a liability.

The final slot in the list is tricky for me and I simply cannot decide what I want it to be. You’ll see above that I am torn between Delinquent and Red Card (though slightly in favor of Red Card), which further complements the disruptive approach of the deck, but it really could be any number of cards. AZ or some sort of healing card seems worthwhile as well and I’ve always been in favor of adding additional copies of Lysandre to decks if I am able. Additionally, you could consider adding an Enhanced Hammer, Xerosic, or another Level Ball.


Pokémon – 11

3 Seismitoad-EX

2 Giratina-EX AOR

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

1 Latios-EX ROS

Trainers – 42

4 Professor Juniper

1 N

1 Lysandre

1 Xerosic

1 Team Flare Grunt

1 AZ


4 Puzzle of Time

4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Super Scoop Up

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Float Stone

2 Fighting Fury Belt

1 Computer Search


2 Virbank City Gym

1 Rough Seas

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 Double Dragon

This deck is an old favorite that sticks around for a reason. Going into Winter Regionals, this was probably my favorite deck and I know that I was torn between playing it or the Sableye/Raichu deck that I detailed in an article. At a glance, it really has not changed very much outside of the fact that I have swapped Trainers’ Mail for Puzzle of Time. There is a notable loss in initial consistency with this change as your opening turns lack the power that the old list seemed to have but that is easily mitigated by the power that Puzzle of Time provides when utilized properly. Getting more Hammers or Super Scoop Ups or even much needed Supporters can turn around unfavorable positions for the deck and I think that this has the power to sneak back into the format.

Notably, this deck somewhat struggled against Flareon/Vespiquen in the past but the hype of that deck seems to have entirely dissipated from what I have observed. I think that Trevenant can be tricky if they are able to play Wally on the first turn, but you can just as easily lock them out of games should they miss it.

The early game Hail Mary.

Outside of the Puzzle of Time change, the list has been adjusted in a few key areas to include more Pokémon to try to boost consistency without Trainers’ Mail as well as cut a few corners as your resources are somewhat less important with Puzzle of Time. Latios-EX is certainly questionable but the donk option seems pretty legitimate to me as I anticipate Night March, Crobat decks, and Trevenant to all be somewhat popular in initial weeks. There is no answer for Jolteon-EX, unfortunately. I could not find anything that suited the deck. The Escape Rope option that Night March relies on is not relevant in these circumstances, as you have no easy means to score the KO after playing it. You may be lucky to keep them dry of Energy with your disruption and wear them down with Hypnotoxic Laser, so there is an outside win condition.

An interesting trend I have witnessed in recent times with Seismitoad decks is how many are ceasing to include Virbank City Gym in their list. Michael Pramawat initially did so in his list from Virginia Regionals and Mikey Fouchet seemed on board with this change in his most recent article but I’m not certain what my take on this is. I cannot say that I think it’s wrong because I have not tested it enough to have a proper opinion, but I think Seismitoad is at its best when it’s doing the most damage, which Virbank provides. Silent Lab isn’t applicable to this deck because you’re fairly reliant on Keldeo-EX’s Rush In, but I understand why it’s better suited to a Crobat deck.

Mega Manectric

Pokémon – 14

4 Manectric-EX

3 M Manectric-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Jolteon-EX

1 Mewtwo-EX LTR

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

1 Raikou BKT

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Juniper

2 N

2 Lysandre

1 Colress

1 Hex Maniac


4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

3 Trainers’ Mail

3 Max Elixir

3 Manectric Spirit Link

1 Escape Rope

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search


4 Rough Seas

Energy – 12

9 L

3 Double Colorless

Mega Manectric is one of those cards that never seems to go away. It’s never quite the most winning deck but it’s always somewhere on the radar and this time there is no exception. I think that Max Elixir speeds the deck up in a way where it can compete with most of the format. Jolteon is a wonderful addition to its repertoire that can beat Night March should Night March players continue to play Escape Rope as their only out to the card. That strategy, while effective, can be played around under ideal circumstances and can be somewhat mitigated by having 2 Jolteon in the list (and potentially up to 4 with Super Rod).

This deck’s biggest enemy is Flareon/Vespiquen, which again I think is on a decline in popularity but perhaps I will be proven wrong after this weekend. Mega Manectric should retain a positive matchup with Sableye since Mega Elixir can allow you to Turbo Bolt even if your turn begins with zero Energy on the board. Rough Seas has always given Seismitoad decks trouble and will easily allow you to overrun (pun intended) Trevenant BREAK, whose entire strategy is largely mitigated by that card.

Giratina-EX can prove problematic though you can feasibly use Raikou and Mewtwo-EX against it. Mewtwo’s main purpose, however, is to counter Gallade and it should be one of your top priorities against any decks running that card. With 3 Energy, Mewtwo can handle a Gallade that has a DCE attached while not being threatened by a 1HKO. In Standard, this deck was quite strong but ultimately could not find a reliable way to handle Gallade and was stuck in the rungs of tier 2.

This deck will be unable to beat Groudon. You could toy around with adding Regice and swapping some Energy for Water but I never anticipate that deck being huge since it seems reliant on Tropical Beach, which can prove an incredibly difficult card to acquire.

I like this deck a ton with Fates Collide as well. For sake of brevity I won’t include an entirely separate list for it but I think adding in Glaceon-EX and W Energy into that list gives the deck even more options and versatility in some otherwise unwinnable matchups. The combination of both Eeveelution cards gives you the power to lock out so many decks and Manectric is the best pairing for both cards. It is a powerful attacker in its own right, and the acceleration it offers them is unmatched by any other deck.

Decks of FATE (for Week 3)

alakazam art abstract 16-9alakazam02.tumblr.com
“Abra, Kadabra, …”

Though this is a territory still a bit untested for me, it is assuredly a format I will be competing in. Kansas City’s Regional Championship will feature the cards from this set and as I will 100% be attending that event, I have been able to put some time into a couple of decks with the new cards. Formats without any tournament results almost always favor players who are willing to experiment, take risks, and go against the grain with their deck choices and I am largely certain that this weekend of events will be no different.


Pokémon – 27

4 Combee AOR

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

4 Oddish AOR

3 Gloom AOR

3 Vileplume AOR

4 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Jolteon-EX

1 Glaceon-EX

1 Jirachi XY67

1 Bunnelby PRC 121

1 Regirock AOR

Trainers – 25

3 Professor Sycamore

2 AZ

1 Lysandre


4 Ultra Ball

4 Trainers’ Mail

2 Acro Bike

2 Battle Compressor

2 Float Stone

1 Computer Search


4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless

4 Rainbow

This list takes most of its inspiration from Alex Hill’s last article and the interesting Vespiquen/Vileplume deck that his team came up with. I think that it was one of the most innovative decks this season and it transformed an archetype that I strongly disfavored into something I was greatly interested in. My biggest complaint with Andrew Wamboldt’s initial iteration of that deck was how linear it played out and the lack of options it had if your basic strategy failed to win the game. Alex and company’s approach to the deck solved this problem and I think that Fates Collide continues to add options to this very interesting toolbox.

It is a four-corners type of deck that seemingly has answers in almost every matchup while also being able to win games in the initial turn simply through Vileplume’s Ability.

I only made a few changes from the initial list and cut the 2 Unowns in favor of Glaceon which I think has a place in this type of deck as well as a Lysandre. The basic Energy were swapped entirely for Rainbow Energy which I think makes your auxiliary attackers considerably more consistent and opens up room in the future for other tech cards based on the metagame. Glaceon itself proves to be a bit difficult to deal with for this deck, but at the moment I cannot quite find a card that deals with it efficiently. With the Rainbow Energy, I considered including Heatran PHF but even it does not 1HKO Glaceon.

Mega Alakazam

Pokémon – 20

4 Zubat PLS 53

3 Golbat PHF

2 Crobat PHF

3 Alakazam-EX

3 M Alakazam-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Wobbuffet PHF

1 Jirachi XY67

Trainers – 32

4 Professor Juniper

2 N

2 Colress

1 Lysandre

1 AZ


4 Pokémon Communication

2 Level Ball

4 VS Seeker

4 Super Scoop Up

3 Alakazam Spirit Link

1 Super Rod

1 Computer Search


3 Dimension Valley

Energy – 8

5 P

3 Mystery

Mega Alakazam is the card from Fates Collide that I am the most excited about. I think people will be surprised with how much damage it can pump out and the Crobat line is a great pairing for it. Though admittedly this deck has an immediate red flag raised when you see its Psychic Weakness — and of course Pumpkaboo is problematic — I think it can be managed. Crobat has always been very effective in dealing with Night March and Jirachi and Wobbuffet prove to be useful backup attackers. Trevenant is somewhat problematic as well but it mostly places damage counters and Tree Slam is a relatively rare occurrence.

Simply put, Alakazam can 1-shot almost everything when used effectively. The spread from the Basic and Crobat Abilities allows you to set up for massive attacks for only 1 Energy. Outside of the two Psychic Pokémon mentioned above, there is very little that pose a real threat to Alakazam. Decks like Groudon will be dismantled by its Abilities and I think that Yveltal will have to get Archeops on the board to have a chance. My list may not be perfect yet as there are many things to consider but I believe the concept is there. It may take a certain metagame for this card to fully reach its utmost potential but I have faith that someone will be able to make it work.

Closing Thoughts

marge simpson rowlet neat 16-9zeekayart.com
“I just think he’s neat!”

I hope everyone has enjoyed the lists I have talked about today! As always, I urge that any and all questions or comments be directed to me in the section below and I will do my best to address them. I think that Fates Collide is a very interesting set and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops the metagame and I think our National Championships will be in a good position when we switch our focus back to Standard.

Like many have expressed, I am weary about the set of reprints that has been announced for Japan. Many cited it as proof that there will be no banning or erratum of Battle Compressor, which I am still unsure about. Regardless of that card, I hope that we do not see even more reprints. The game becomes stagnant when it is just all the same stuff over and over again and I for one am in favor of diversity instead of familiarity. But hopefully I will see many of you soon at upcoming events!

Also one final thought: Rowlet is clearly the best starter from the newly announced Sun & Moon Pokémon. Take care!

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