Arriving home from New England Regionals, I’m satisfied to report that I did just fine. I went 4-2-2 with Raikou/Eels. Azul Garcia Griego (my good friend with a nearly identical list) ended his run in Top 8. Apparently Raikou-EX made all the difference.
Significant about Week 3-of Regionals, aside from my average performance, was the introduction of Fates Collide into the metagame. While Expanded decks might not matter very much for the vast majority of people reading this article, Expanded Regionals are worth taking a look at before diving into the post-FCO Standard format. I won’t trouble you with a report. We’re moving on.
. . .
Night March has been a centralizing force in the Standard format for nearly six months now, and it’s about time for a change. We don’t even know if the March squad will be in format for 2017, but until then it looks like we will have to make do with its presence. Karen is coming to an expansion set near you sometime in August, meaning Night March’s bane is a little late to the parade.
Simply put, Fates Collide didn’t change much. It hit Expanded like a wet noodle, and most people saw the set as dead on arrival. I’m predicting it will stay that way. If Fates were using Splash, you could say that it failed. Although Glaceon-EX and Mew FCO did see some play, Glaceon is bound to be even less effective in Standard than Expanded due to excessive Night March and evolved Pokémon like Greninja that can break though its Crystal Ray.
Today we’ll be looking back at Regionals, taking home some major points to apply in Standard, and discussing the continued dominance of Night March.
The only tournaments that we really care about at this point happened on the third weekend of the Spring Regionals series:
- M Rayquaza won Massachusetts
- Yveltal/Max Elixir won Utah
- Night March had exceptional performances in Kansas
- Vespiquen/Flareon took down Edmonton
Honestly, Rayquaza and Night March seem like the only Standard viable decks out of the four, and FCO made little impact on either.
The winner of Massachusetts played the most basic speed Rayquaza build you can get. Rayquaza does well in Standard, but takes a hard loss to Night March. Expanded is dominated by Darkness decks, making Rayquaza an exceptional deck choice for Mass Regionals. The winner played Aegislash and basic M Energy to combat decks using Special Energy, but in transitioning to Standard I can’t imagine that Jolteon-EX isn’t just better. It covers mostly the same decks as Aegislash-EX, but without being vulnerable to Hex Maniac.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 37
Energy – 8
Mega Rayquaza is an unstoppable force in Expanded if it can’t be hit for Weakness. Standard Rayquaza is a bit more fragile. Tools like Colress and Exeggcute do a lot to keep the deck going even during Stadium wars. That said, this version doesn’t struggle to get turn one M Rayquaza-EX at all, which is the biggest strength of the Expanded variant. Unfortunately the deck’s biggest contender is still Night March.
This list accepts that it will never use three Jolteon-EX in one game. That said, they have free retreat and are great starters in any matchup. Generally Jolteon is kept at one or two to avoid clogging a deck, but Ray always needs more Basics surrounding him anyway. Situationally, Jolteon can be used to close out a game against a deck like Night March, or at least slow them down.
In fact, Jolteon tends to be a better attacker in Standard than Expanded. In an Expanded tournament where Gallade is among the most played cards, Jolteon can’t function as much more than a utility attacker, even in a deck like Rayquaza. The problem isn’t quite so bad in Standard.
Players have been incorporating Jolteon into Vileplume decks in order to give opponents fewer chances to fight back. Vileplume makes it almost impossible to play Maxie (and Gallade). Odds are that unplayable Trainers will get in their way, making Jolteon that much more viable. The following deck utilizes Jolteon-EX as a main attacker instead of a situational out to sticky situations.
Last weekend Jolteon-EX did see some success with Vileplume and the new Glaceon-EX. Glaceon is a bit less important in Standard, but Jolteon and Regice carry over nicely.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 29
Energy – 11
The first thing you’ll notice is the heavy Supporter line. Unlike Vespiquen decks, this deck needs more than a single DCE in order to attack. We play lots of Supporters in order to keep the gas pumping. Lysandre was often excluded from these decks entirely in Expanded, but this list, with its 3 Jolteon-EX, aims to be a bit more aggressive. Since the deck’s main attacker is Lightning, I think it’s worth applying that strength to go after Benched Shaymin-EX.
The heavy AZ count can reset our Vileplume for a turn and allow us an emergency turn of Trainers. It can protect Shaymin-EX and deny opponents easy prizes. In a deck without VS Seeker I think playing three is important. With so many AZ, Manaphy-EX might not be necessary, but it does help a naturally clunky deck feel smooth. Despite this, we play Float Stone as yet another layer of protection against being stuck with an active Vileplume. It is also more efficient than using a crucial Energy attachment just to activate Aqua Tube.
Vileplume/Vespiquen decks have begun to fade from Expanded and I expect the same will happen to that deck in Standard. The deck is too DCE reliant to match the consistency of popular Dark decks. Since Generations launched, Vileplume’s pool of partners has slowly expanded past the beehive. Vileplume Toolbox variants like the one above have emerged to take advantage of cards that limit our opponents’ options, such as Jolteon-EX, Glaceon-EX, and Regice, .
The biggest takeaway from Fates Collide + Expanded is that Night March only gets better with Mew. Night March is a solid deck in Expanded but the Standard format puts it over the top. Even though Standard strips the deck of tools like Computer Search and Mew-EX, other decks that tend to do well against Night March (like Seismitoad) lose a lot more.
… But this isn’t a secret. Night March has been the best deck in Standard for months now. So how does Fates Collide impact the BDIF?
Imperial (Night) March
Night March is here to stay and only got stronger with the addition of cards from Fates Collide. While Night March got even more terrifying, other decks didn’t gain much in comparison. Thankfully, we’re not talking about another Puzzle of Time-esque boost to Night March’s dominance. The only card worth playing for everyone’s favorite Battle Compressor deck is Mew.
Night March was my top choice for New England Regionals before I was inspired to play Raikou/Eels the night before. In my heart, I thought Night March was secretly the better choice, and it probably was in reality too. Dark decks were at an all-time high, meaning Trevenant would be in for a rough time. With Night March’s biggest problem matchup pinned down by the dominance of Darkrai, Night March was set to do well in Expanded.
In Standard, Night March is even more in the clear.
Pokémon – 19
2 Mew FCO
Trainers – 37
Energy – 4
This Pokémon-heavy Night March monstrosity runs almost exactly like Expanded Night March, but with slightly more space to play around with. This list is a bit more conservative compared to past versions of Night March, forgoing cards like Acro Bike. 2 copies of Lysandre are there to help take quick knockouts on Shaymin-EX and similar Bench-sitters as early as turn 1.
The 2 Lysandre also complement Target Whistle, a game-changing card in the mirror match. Remember that unless you’re sure they do not run a Target Whistle of their own, avoid benching and discarding Shaymin-EX at all costs. In a metagame full of Night March, consider 2 Shaymin instead, or AZ.
With Jolteon-EX complementing the new Glaceon-EX in many new toolbox decks, I will always include the Maxie/Gallade package to keep Jolteon players honest; that much is clear. Mew on the other hand has seen a lot of mixed reviews to say the least.
On one hand, Mew is certainly not a crucial cog required to make Night March run. On its own, Mew barely brings anything more to the table than something like Super Rod (which has been made utterly obsolete by Puzzle of Time).
Mew allows us to run basic Energy I suppose, but this deck has been dominant for months without seeing any Energy woes. 4 copies of Double Colorless and Puzzle of Time should suffice. Between those and Teammates the deck shouldn’t have any Energy issues. So why play Mew at all? It sounds like a glorified Revive.
Well, I like Mew because in addition to being an additional attacker to pad the Night March count, it can also borrow attacks from utility attackers that Night March has never had a reason to run before now.
One thing I once disliked about Night March is how many resources have to be pitched early game in order to do tons of damage to big Basic Pokémon. Mew gives us additional attackers, allowing us to pitch more Night Marchers with less risk. In turn, this helps preserve Puzzle of Time for crucial resources like Double Colorless (another reason why — now more than ever — Basic Energy are just bad in this deck). That said, we should always try to keep a Night Marcher on the Bench, especially since N is back in action.
Jirachi is a card I ran in Expanded next to 2 copies of Mew. Dimension Valley allows Mew to Stardust for free, which is a trick that more than one prolific player called “cute.” I eventually cut 1 Mew and the Jirachi for space, but I feel like this combo is even more valuable in Standard.
Stardust totally dismantles quad-DCE decks like Vileplume/Vespiquen and some Toad variants. The ability to do Startdust uninhibited by an Energy cost makes these tough matchups into one-sided victories for Night March.
The deck functioned fine without Mew, but adding an additional attacker allows us to be just a little more liberal with Night Marchers early in the game. Without Jirachi, I’d probably cut back to a single Mew. On its own, Mew doesn’t bring much new to the table without another utility attacker like Jirachi to complement it.
Even without Jirachi, Mew does have a few perks. In some matchups where Joltik isn’t a viable attacker (Greninja), Mew really helps take the stress off of Pumpkaboo. For similar reasons, I chose to go with Fighting Fury Belt as my Tool of choice. The HP buff is even more useful in Standard than it is in Expanded. It’s especially useful against the Standard variant of Yveltal that loves to use Yveltal XY to attack Night Marchers efficiently. Little Yveltal cannot take down a Belted Mew as easily it can a Belted Night Marcher.
Night March gained a bit more from Fates Collide than less powerful decks. As we approach Nationals and Worlds, I don’t see a lot changing. Night March has been the must-beat deck for months now and decks that can’t contest its dominance have no place in the metagame. With or without Mew and Jirachi, some form of Night March will likely stay on top of the tier list until rotation. With this format warping force in mind, let’s move on to a deck that seems to have a shot at dethroning the March.
N’s return to Standard ushers in a new hope for people who like playing Item cards. With another quality Supporter to play, Item lock decks become weaker by default, and slower decks like Greninja enjoy a new Supporter that’s arguably better than Ace Trainer, but definitely more consistent.
Barring something brand new rising to prominence, Greninja is the only deck I see with a realistic chance to overtake Night March by any margin.
Pokémon – 20
1 Remoraid BKT 32
Trainers – 32
1 Level Ball
Energy – 8
This is my current basic list for Greninja, based off my post-States list from my last article. Recently, Grant Manley posted a Greninja list in his newest article that prioritized Evosoda over Rare Candy, which proves to me that people still are divided on what to do with Greninja. I’m not especially surprised, seeing that Greninja is the first dedicated Stage 2 evolution deck to see widespread play in literally years. People just don’t know how to build it.
I’m not going to say this version is best, but I am a huge fan of Rare Candy. That said, I’m not quite sure where to take the Frogadier line. Water Duplicates is excellent, especially in slow setup situations and against Item lock decks.
Getting three Stage 1 frogs is much better than just two or one, but the full set of Frogadier gets in the way when the deck is running smoothly off of Rare Candy. If the opposite happens, 4 Rare Candy can quickly become dead cards. I feel like it may be very possible to play as few as 2 Rare Candy, but I think the Teammates/Rare Candy combo is too good to pass up.
I think Octillery is worth playing. AZ can help the deck recover if Octillery is forced to become Active, but Octillery can also be easily sacrificed. After all, knocking our Octillery out does nothing to free our opponent from Greninja pressure. Octillery also brings some reliability to the table late game, especially since N matters.
Jirachi is something I first included in my March article after watching a similar list with 2 copies of Jirachi win New Hampshire States over a Night March deck. In a world where Vileplume is played with attackers like Vespiquen, Jirachi becomes that much more relevant. It is great at stalling for time against all sorts of decks while keeping itself safe with Stardust’s effect. Jirachi cannot be searched with Dive Ball, but it’s generally fine to start with. 3 copies of Jirachi gives us more access to them despite cutting down on Ultra Ball to make room for a cleaner alternative in Dive Ball.
Previously I ran this deck with Ace Trainer and Brigette but I’d say that N is vastly superior at all points of the game to both. Not only does it offer early game draw without a nasty discard, it also lets the player equalize a game and stage a comeback, the thing Greninja does best. Sacrificing Brigette forces us to compensate for the lack of Froakie search with a full set of Dive Ball. Despite this, N actually has a great deal to do with the strength of Greninja right now.
Additionally, N tends to benefit Greninja whenever it is played in the mid game, especially since Octillery is usually in play. The deck’s patient setup speed naturally makes an opponent’s N less good. Players know the power of N, and almost every deck will run at least a single copy, which tends to benefit the Greninja player.
I don’t think Rough Seas or other options like that are very good in this deck. Stadiums are not as important in Standard as they are in Expanded. Trevenant and Toad are not huge threats either. Copies of the card might get better over time depending on how the metagame develops.
Greninja’s most common loss in Standard is to itself. The clock is its hardest matchup and the deck is not that easy to play. Not only does it take patience to play, it also takes time. If the deck collapses under its own weight Game 1, the Greninja player instantly is faced with an uphill battle if he or she wants a W instead of a draw.
Greninja has few inherent flaws, and I suspect those flaws can be patched up as lists develop. For such a complex deck that is built so many ways, not a lot of time has been spent to perfect Greninja lists. It’s obvious when we look at different lists for this deck that there is no gold standard to follow like there is for something less complex like Night March or Yveltal.
Greninja was a powerful deck before Fates Collide and like Night March, it only got stronger. Greninja already did well against the strongest decks such as Night March and Darkness, so it only makes sense to expect Greninja to float to the top.
Beam Me Up, Starry
While this deck isn’t the most competitive, it is a fun combo deck that can pull off some unique plays. I haven’t seen a list for it yet, but this is my take on Archie/Aerodactyl.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 42
Energy – 4
Making Aerodactyl work was one of my favorite pre-Regionals pastimes. While it turned into a waste of time for Expanded, I feel like the combo is more effective in Standard. This deck is nearly unplayable under Item lock and there is way more of that in Expanded than in our Nationals format.
That said, the whole combo is slightly harder to pull off without Computer Search. The playability of this whole deck hinges on getting a turn one Archie.
For that reason, we can’t afford to not play Shaymin, so this deck accepts that we will probably start with it sooner rather than later. With such bad starters, we play extra Float Stones. Still, we need Omastar out immediately if this deck is to get us anywhere.
To combat this hole in our plan, we play Parallel City and AZ to remove Shaymin from play ASAP. Part of this deck’s strength comes from a having a consistent non-EX attacker. Between the Special Energy removal, Crushing Hammer, and a need to take 6 whole Prize cards, the idea is that Aerodactyl will eventually burn its opponent out of resources.
Maintenance is a bizarre choice, but this deck is unique in that it needs to keep its attackers corralled inside the deck in order to function. Between N and Maintenance, we have decent ways to put away our stray copies of Aerodactyl. Similarly, Maintenance helps keep crucial cards out of the hand when it’s time to Archie. It can preserve cards like Crushing Hammer and VS Seeker for later.
VS Seeker is incredibly important to the Archie combo, and many Supporters are played in small numbers to benefit the T1 Archie. As such, 4 VS Seeker help us see these Supporters a second or third time when they’re crucial.
Target Whistle is an absolute must in this deck. While Aerodactyl may not be able to stand up to the consistency of a Night March deck on its own, it can take advantage of its opponent’s dependence on Shaymin-EX. Omastar BREAK can carry the deck though seemingly impossible situations by preying on Shaymin-EX, which Aerodactyl effortlessly beats out of the sky. Between Puzzle of Time, Lysandre, Omastar BREAK, and Target Whistle, it’s possible to take all 6 Prizes off the same Shaymin-EX.
This combo deck is a ton of fun and worth trying out. Unfortunately, Greninja has the tools to walk all over Aerodactyl. If that deck ends up approaching the popularity of Night March, Restored Pokémon will lose any viability they might have had.
Only one Spring Regionals weekend was played with the new Fates Collide set, and it is important to take those results with a grain of salt, especially when applying them to Standard. We have to remember that Standard is a totally different format with a unique dynamic. Expanded revolves around Dark decks and Item lock strategies while Standard is all about dealing with Night March, the (mostly) undisputed best deck in format.
The big difference between the two formats is that one has a deck that’s clearly above the rest (Night March) and the other is more balanced. That isn’t to say that Expanded is healthier than Standard, just that the whole Standard format is built around which decks can beat Night March and which ones fall short.
Many strategies that did well in the post-Fates Collide Expanded metagame can carry over to Standard, such as Vileplume/Jolteon/Regice decks and Night March + Mew. While Vileplume might be a little less effective in Standard, Night March is undoubtably more effective than ever before.
Aside from Night March, the other big winner from FCO is Greninja. It’s the only existing deck that gained from the new set. N is a big improvement over Ace Trainer, Brigette, and pretty much every other draw Supporter in Evolution decks. Greninja could stand up to Night March before Fates Collide, and there’s no doubt it still can. If any deck is to match the power of Night March in the upcoming months, I’d put my money on the frog.
Hopefully this article has given some insight into the future of Standard now that a few tournaments have been played with Fates Collide. While not much appears to have changed, it’s clear that decks like Greninja and Vileplume are being reevaluated to take advantage of new strategies that are sure to make a splash in the upcoming months.
Thanks for reading,
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