I’m not crazy about this format, and I know I’m not the first person you’ve heard say that. I’ve been playing for about five years, and I’ve had success a number of times at major tournaments, culminating with a 2nd place finish at Worlds 2013 and top 8 in 2015. But this year, with limited consistency options and turn 1 Item lock, I feel deck builders are held back. I like to build wacky decks but am always too scared to take them to tournaments. This format in particular is not kind to rogue ideas, so if I want to win, I feel trapped in the top tiers.
At Vancouver, BC Provincials last month, I was hanging with some friends the night before the tournament. We were talking over decks when my buddy exclaimed, “I hate this format! I don’t like any of these decks. Everything sucks!”
Without hesitation, I jumped in: “I have just the thing for you.”
On my phone, I pulled up a picture of a deck list I had created with Chris Murray a couple of weeks prior. It was a Luvdisc/Glameow deck. Everyone in the room gathered around, asked for scans, curious what the cards did and how the deck was supposed to win. “Do you deck them out?” someone asked. On the contrary, the deck’s objective was to strip your opponent’s hand down to nothing on the first turn …
… and then prevent them from drawing out of it for the rest of the game.
I’m not surprised my friends didn’t know what the cards did. With the format so defined (some might argue, stale), it is easy to forget about the cards that don’t see play. Luvdisc is one with such a unique effect; since its release, I have been wanting to build a deck like this.
Granted, while the deck is cool, it’s not competitive. The combo is so hard to pull off that even when you optimize a list, you still only hit all the pieces sometimes. But when it works, there is nothing more satisfying.
The lock only functions when your opponent does not yet have a fully set up board. For instance, a Genesect-EX with 3 Energy or a Seismitoad-EX using Quaking Punch just crushes you. For that reason, you need to pull off the combo on turn 1. That is strict. Additionally, because you require Delinquent, you cannot use a draw Supporter to reach for your combo. So the rest of the deck needs to be non-Supporter-based draw.
Another disclaimer — there are some things this just loses to, even with a perfect start:
- Keldeo-EX + Dark Energy + Darkrai-EX
- Double Keldeo-EX
- Blastoise + Keldeo-EX + Water Energy
- Turn 1 Trevenant
- Turn 1 Vileplume
- Max Elixir/Dark Patch
- Virizion-EX + Grass Energy
- Turn 1 Ghetsis
- Turn 1 Hex Maniac
- Turn 1 Wally into Octillery BKP
- (and as I was soon to learn, Ho-Oh-EX)
Although those are a lot of bad matchups, with a good draw, this deck can actually beat almost anything else. All of your other matchups are exactly the same, as Luvdisc is entirely non-interactive.
At BC Provincials, I unfortunately couldn’t convince my friend to play Luvdisc, and I certainly couldn’t afford to play it myself — I was seeking the last few points for my Worlds invite. I did, however, promise my friends that if I could get my invite in the following weeks, that I would play Luvdisc at Seattle Regionals. Sure enough, I did.
We threw together a Facebook thread with the sole objective of collectively building the best Expanded Luvdisc list possible.
For over a month, we tossed ideas around, and I tested them. I put well over a hundred games into the deck, trying wacky draw engines and obscure techs. I ran statistics to determine card counts, factoring in the likelihood of prizing both copies of a combo piece, or opening with a bad starter. I brought the deck to League, occasionally wrecking my friend’s Night March deck, or losing just as hard to a Junior playing Seismitoad. I tested Latios-EX ROS, Sableye DEX, Parallel City, Shadow Triad, Sparkling Robe and Ariados AOR, Recycle, Roller Skates, Super Scoop Up, and even cards like Reserved Ticket and Maintenance. No stone was left unturned.
In the end, this is the list I brought to Seattle:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 43
3 Red Card
Energy – 4
Arriving at the tournament, I received no small amount of criticism for my deck choice. People called me out for playing a bad deck. “You’re not really playing this” was common.
I wasn’t without doubts of my own. This would be the first time in five years of competitive Pokémon that I had ever shown up to a tournament with a deck I didn’t believe could win. Indeed, this was the first time I had shown up to a tournament just to have fun.
And boy, was it fun. I set for myself a realistic goal: win one round. I wanted just once to get the lock, to show even one person that the deck can win.
Round 1 vs. Steven Madsen (Palkia-EX BKP/Gyarados AOR 21)
In Game 1, he played three successful Max Elixirs and Manaphy-EX. I conceded immediately. In Game 2, I had an opportunity to lock him, but missed the Energy to attack. Fair enough, Max Elixir was on my list of expected losses.
Round 2 vs. Garrett Dahlseide (Blastoise)
I actually managed to donk his Exeggcute in Game 1, but the next two games demonstrated why my deck isn’t competitive. In Game 2, he went first and got the full setup with Blastoise, Manaphy-EX, Keldeo-EX, and Energy. In Game 3, I played Red Card + Delinquent in hopes that he couldn’t build a board, but he managed to find two Keldeo-EX to perpetually remove my Poison.
Lunch break. I was feeling down. My friends were at the top tables with Night March and Trevenant. I was losing confidence that I would win even one round.
Round 3 … Bye
This might have been the first time I’d been given the bye at a Regionals. I played some Pokkén while I waited for the next round.
Round 4 vs. Charlie Nguyen (Vespiquen/Vileplume)
Well. He got the turn 1 Vileplume. I looked at my hand. My deck runs 37 Items, and I was holding 7 of the best. Game 2 wasn’t much better.
Round 5 vs. Michaela Easter (Raticate BKP/Machamp-EX/Ariados AOR)
I finally got the lock! I set her hand to 0, flipped a bunch of heads with Heart Wink, and removed her whole board with Poison. I have to say, it felt amazing. In the other games, however, she knew what was going on, so she Wally’d into Octillery. Also, Raticate has an Ability which prevents it from being Poisoned, so my deck fell apart rather quickly.
I met up with my friends between rounds. At this point, the few who had no chance of Top 8 were talking about dropping. I was tempted, but still determined to get my one win. I decided I would stick it out for a few more games.
Round 6 vs. Derek Babine (Seismitoad-EX/Manectric-EX/Crobat PHF)
This is a matchup I was hoping to face. Unfortunately, my deck did not want to cooperate. Derek was a really chill guy, though. He commented that he could see what I was trying to do, and he thought it was creative.
I was offered to profile my deck for the Twitch stream. I obliged, and explained to the viewers what my deck was supposed to do, and encouraged them not to play it if they wanted Championship Points.
Round 7 vs. Eric Bindewald (Trevenant)
Much like in the match against Vileplume, my deck froze without access to Items. I lost quickly.
Round 8 vs. Luis Vargas (Ho-Oh-EX DRX/Golduck BREAK)
Here we go, it was the last round. I was seated at the very bottom table, but I played as if I were at the top. Considering every move, checking for Prizes, calculating probabilities for sequencing plays with Unown, Trainers’ Mail, and Ultra Ball. But even at my best, his deck defeated me. He got Ho-Oh out with 3 Energy on the first turn, and there was nothing I could do to stop it from knocking out all my Pokémon.
During the last round, a judge came by and dropped off this neat hat for my opponent and me. I think they might have felt bad that we were both 1-6 at the bottom table. Regardless, this hat will bear memories of the tournament, and my 115th place finish … out of 115.
So I didn’t get the win I was looking for, but I had a blast. For many competitive players, it’s difficult to change our mindset, to forget about Championship Points and prizes, and just play for fun. I strongly encourage anyone reading this article to give yourself a break. Don’t let your most creative ideas be forgotten, relegated to PTCGO or Saturday League; even if it’s just one tournament out of the season, be that guy with the crazy deck. Shake up the field, and have some fun.