Hello SixPrizes! I’m thankful to be writing for all of you, once again — it’s been a couple of months since my last article. If that was the last time you checked in with me, you’ll remember that I was in the middle of State Championships, trying to figure out the new Standard format that had been slowly taken over by Night March. I know many of us were hoping that by the time Standard reared its ugly head again for Nationals, the situation in front of us would be completely different. I also know that there are many of you out there actively testing in order to try and budge Night March’s dominant status at the top of the format. As much as I hate to say it, however, I think we’re in for another tournament that is defined by Night March’s position at the head of the pack.
breezyzephyr.tumblr.comI had a moderate amount of good luck at States that allowed me to Top 8 both the Washington and British Columbia events. The first event of the two, Washington States, saw me playing an Yveltal-EX/Gallade BKT/Garbodor BKP list that had previously done well at Oregon States the weekend before. The deck had a relatively good Night March matchup considering its ability to rely on primarily non-EX attackers, but Night March ended up taking that tournament in the end anyway. British Columbia Provincials saw me play Night March as well — just as I had recommended in my article! — but I was unfortunately knocked out of contention by Chase Moloney’s Yveltal build.
I’m going into this article with the impression that most people have heard “enough” about Night March — that is, they would much rather someone present a simple answer to the Night March “issue” (that is, its dominance in the metagame). Perhaps you’re looking for some rogue variant previously undiscussed, or a better version of a popular deck that will end the march once and for all. Though I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I believe you would be operating at a disadvantage if you were to no longer consider Night March as one of the most viable decks to play at the upcoming US Nationals.
It’s my duty as a writer to present my honest opinion for what I believe to be the best deck in any format or for any upcoming tournament. Even though Night March went down to “only” 20% of the Top 8 metagame for Week 4-of States (from around 30% to 35% weeks previously), I continue to stand by my opinion that it is the deck most likely to grant you a good result in the current format. For the rest of my article, I would like to discuss several different factors that have led me to once again consider Night March to be the best deck in the format; these are the current Standard metagame, the consistency of the Night March build itself (despite many complaints that the deck is too “luck based”), and its matchups, which I believe continue to point to Night March as the right pick for the current Standard format.
The one caveat to all this that I will add, however, is that it is still somewhat too early to know the Nationals metagame exactly. It’s possible that at a certain point, the metagame will shift to include so many Night March counters that the deck will no longer be viable. I don’t believe this will be the case, but the deck does get weaker as more and more people decide to play decks specifically to counter it. I also don’t want this article to be too similar to my past one, but I think my outlook on how the deck works has changed significantly and you’ll be able to see that as well.
Why Night March is Looking So Good
It’s always difficult to get a firm grasp on the US Nationals metagame due to the fact that we’re going into a format almost completely blind. Other than any testing you choose to do (testing which will only be relevant to determining the metagame if you’re able to try out almost the entire format over a long period of time, if that even), the only way to look at the metagame is through results of different foreign National Championships, League Challenges in the US, and the many articles from various websites that are geared toward the competitive scene.
In this particular case, it’s also important to draw on the States format as Fates Collide has yet to provide any really major shifts to the metagame. The two big changes in the Standard format that are relevant to Night March that I’d like to talk about in particular — the addition of Mew FCO and the emergence Zygarde-EX — I will do so when discussing builds and matchups further below. Most of the old matchups are the same as before, and not much has changed in what I believe is the optimal build for Night March or any of its harder matchups.
There have been four European National Championships (one of which was unofficial) in our current format, the standings for which I urge you to look at. Though I don’t think these results will translate perfectly to what the US Nationals metagame will be, it’s important to look at them in order to gain a broader picture of what decks are performing well in general.
Night March doesn’t have the largest representation in the Top 8 standings of these championships, but I think it’s important to note that it has won three out of the four tournaments. Not only was the deck able to win most of the tournaments, but it was able to do despite a high amount of bad matchups in the Top 8 brackets — Seismitoad-EX variants, a presence of Giratina-EX AOR, and of course the pervasive Greninja BREAK.
This is something I’ll discuss more when looking at Night March’s matchups, but the one thing that stands out to me most about the deck is that it’s able to consistently beat matchups that are considered theoretically unfavorable. The results from Europe only serve to showcase this reality. I’m sure that this is likely one of the most annoying things about Night March — that it can out-luck or out-draw some of its worst matchups — but to me, this is just another reason to choose the deck over others.
That being said, I believe local League Challenges from around the country are pretty terrible metagame predictors. Unfortunately this means that the US Nationals metagame is mostly a matter of speculation. As such, perhaps the best way to look for a unified idea of what the metagame will be is to look back at past States results and try to incorporate as much new information as possible.
One last thing I think we should consider is the massive size of US Nationals, which presents the reality of a large, variously-skilled player base choosing to use almost any legal combination of 60 cards. Perhaps the strongest argument for playing Night March is its great matchups against almost anything that isn’t specifically engineered to beat it. And though it depends on your own abilities, I don’t believe it’s irrational to go into US Nationals with the mindset that you’ll be facing and beating a decent amount of opponents that less skilled than you. Night March in particular is a great play when facing a large field with players of such varied skill levels, due to its consistency and the relative ease to playing the deck well. In tournaments as big as Nationals, I would almost always favor a deck that has this kind of statistical foundation to it, as opposed to a deck that is tailored to a more specific metagame. As we’ve seen figured out from the above discussion, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint exactly what we can expect to see at US Nationals, especially this early.
The Latest List
The current Night March list that I’m using is an updated version of the list that Michael Pramawat used to win Washington States. Most of the changes I made are to account for Fates Collide and the new metagame that comes along with it.
Pokémon – 16
1 Mew FCO
Trainers – 40
1 Town Map
Energy – 4
The biggest change from the lists published in my previous article is the lack of Acro Bike. I was first really hesitant to take out this card, as it theoretically seemed necessary to the deck functioning at its peak. Not only can it possibly get Night Marchers into the discard pile, but it allows you dig deep into your deck in order to get whatever specific card you’re searching for. And yet now that I’ve played many games without it, I believe it to be completely unnecessary. I’m in fact much more likely to rely on cards like Teammates and Puzzle of Time in order to search for specific cards, whether they’re in my deck or in my discard pile, and I haven’t had any issues regarding drawing cards even without it. What’s worse is that Acro Bike can end up being a liability. Discarding cards at random from your deck is most likely the last thing you want to do, despite having Puzzle of Time for recovery. Night March is ultimately all about carefully micromanaging your resources so that you can control the end game to be in your favor, and discarding cards at random from the top of your deck is a complete detriment to the deck’s foundational strategy.
1 Mew FCO
As usual in the Pokémon community at large, a new card was widely regarded as format-breaking and ultimately didn’t meet any of our expectations. I like the inclusion of Mew FCO into Night March because it provides the deck with a bit more support and versatility. It’s nice to not be forced to attack with a Night Marcher, especially if a large quantity are prized, and the addition of one extra attacker is perhaps the exact amount you need. Any extra copies of Mew feel somewhat superfluous and I don’t believe add much more value to the build. The card does offer some liabilities — it’s possible that you’ll be unable to use it because of Silent Lab or Hex Maniac — but these are mostly negated by its free retreat, which is really the extra punch the card needed in order to see play.
I would also like to note that Mew FCO’s Ability does not allow you to use your opponent’s Pokémon’s attacks, or any of your own that aren’t found on Basic Pokémon. This isn’t as much of a downside in Standard, but it is a drawback that could make the card even less useful in the future.
The amount of Supporter recovery available to Night March (4 VS Seeker, 4 Puzzle of Time) is why I’m hesitant to include more than one copy of Hex Maniac in a list. Your Hex Maniac count should completely depend on how many Greninja BREAK decks you expect to see in the metagame that you’ll be playing, but even so I doubt that more than one will swing the matchup in your favor in any major way. As for the Trevenant BREAK matchup, a second Hex Maniac is not at all as useful as a second Lysandre would be, since you would be unable to draw cards without Shaymin-EX ROS after using the Hex Maniac. Regardless, the card is very, very important in the Greninja BREAK matchup, and as such no list should be without it.
With the advent of Fates Collide and Carbink BREAK/Zygarde-EX, Startling Megaphone becomes extremely important. I would even consider adding an additional copy, depending on the ultimate popularity of Zygarde-EX and Focus Sash. Considering that Carbink BREAK is a non-EX and that if you’re unable to remove Focus Sash you’ll be 2-shotting everything in the deck, the matchup becomes extremely difficult. Since it’s relatively easy for Zygarde-EX to Knock Out Night Marchers, I would much rather focus Puzzle of Time resources on getting back Double Colorless Energy instead of Startling Megaphone — otherwise I could see running only one copy. Once again, the count will depend on the deck’s popularity. If you don’t expect to see many Zygarde-EX, then an extra copy of Megaphone would just be a waste of space.
Any extra space you think you have in your deck should honestly go to Pokémon Catcher. The card pairs extremely well with Target Whistle, and is one of the best ways to get around Jirachi XY67 (or to Knock it Out before it’s able to attack). It’s sometimes too difficult to Lysandre on any given turn, and that’s why I like to have Pokémon Catcher as a backup. Being able to Puzzle of Time for it gives this card real value, and of course the more you play, the better it becomes.
I’m still quite uncertain as to whether or not N should be played in Night March. There are some scenarios where I could see it being useful, but generally I find that unless you have a terrible start, you’re going to be either quite ahead of your opponent or keeping pace with them. In those scenarios, there are other cards that may be more useful in order to gain an advantage. Pokémon Catcher is definitely one of them — being able to get ahead on Prizes when a match is close is more appealing to me than hoping that your opponent doesn’t draw well out of an N.
Additionally, the card can be terrible for your own game. It’s quite easy to take early KOs and as such, N’ing yourself to 3 or fewer cards mid to late game is very risky. The deck of course doesn’t need N for anything other than disruption, but its inclusion could end up being more of a liability than a boon. If you really want a card for hand disruption I would consider Judge, but even so I don’t think either card to be necessary for peak functionality.
The argument I hear most for including Gallade BKT is that it’s a great card for consistency. Why wouldn’t you want to include a card that allows you to rearrange your deck so that you can draw exactly what you need in order to win the game or gain an advantage? Though it’s true that Gallade does grant you this ability, I would like to make the point that it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether or not a card is necessary for a specifically desired outcome unless you test both with and without it. (So if you really think Gallade BKT is necessary, I would urge you to try the deck without it and see if it’s truly game-breaking.)
For a similar example, when Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff PHF was popular, I used the same argument to justify including Archie’s Ace in the Hole and Swampert PRC 36 in the deck. If you’re able to draw an extra card every turn, why wouldn’t you want it to be the exact card you need? The simple answer is that you’re able to draw the exact card(s) you need even without the extra-powerful deck-stacking tool, just because the deck is built in a way that allows for it. In my games with Night March, I’ve found that the Battle Compressor engine is great for thinning your deck out so that you greatly increase the odds for the end game to turn out in your favor, and as such I don’t believe Gallade to be worth the two extra spots in your list.
How to Overcome Its ‘Bad’ Matchups
To continue the discussion regarding Night March’s matchups from before, it’s important to note that even the bad matchups are winnable if you get a good stroke of luck. This is definitely not something that you ever want to rely on when it comes to competitive play, but all decks have bad matchups — why wouldn’t you choose the deck that has a higher chance of additionally offering you the ability to luck out of a sticky situation? This is, of course, on top of the deck’s favorable attributes of strong consistency and intense power.
I know that this kind of reasoning isn’t what people like to hear. Most of the time it seems that Pokémon players really try to find some sort of honor in the kind of deck that they play — they want it to be “fair,” or fun, or both. What you ultimately have to realize is that those qualities are irrelevant if your ultimate goal is winning. In fact, those ideals generally lend individuals to make suboptimal deck choices. Considering the prizes on the line for US Nationals, I’m personally very incentivized to do my best to win.
Night March / The Mirror
The Night March mirror match is completely dependent on if you’re able to set up without Shaymin-EX ROS. If you end up having a terrible start it might be necessary to bench one, but you don’t need many Night Marchers in the discard in order to do well. Do not throw away Shaymin into the discard, either, as they can easily be Target Whistled back onto the Bench. AZ is useful in this matchup, but another key play is to try and Knock Out opposing Joltik with your own Shaymin-EX if you do end up benching one. Alternatively, it’s good to not bench your own Joltik for the same reason. If your opponent plays Jirachi XY67, just make sure to hold onto Puzzle of Time and control your resources so that you don’t deck out.
Your Yveltal matchup is primarily dependent on how many EX attackers your opponent is choosing to play, and whether or not they’re foolish enough to bench them (or throw them away in the discard, even). Anything in an Yveltal list is going to be able to 1-shot your attackers quite easily, so I would suggest ignoring their non-EX attackers completely and attempting to gain a lead using favorable Prize trades. One thing to remember is that you should attempt to get set up without using Shaymin-EX, as Yveltal BKT makes it a pretty big liability. In general though, you only need one or two EX knockouts in order to clinch the game.
I can’t say that I’ve ever liked the Greninja BREAK deck, despite its “good” Night March matchup. Too often I’ve seen the deck not set up the way it needs to, and whenever this happens you’re able to outspeed it. The best thing you can do is to chain Hex Maniac for as many turns as possible, as that way they’ll be unable to do more than Knock Out one Night Marcher per turn (if that). I would suggest scooping early if you’re unable to get Hex Maniac out in addition to a consistent stream of knockouts, as the more games the deck is forced to play, the more likely it is to not set up properly. Since the deck doesn’t play any EXs, getting rid of Shaymin-EX is once again a good strategy. With N coming back, Greninja BREAK does become somewhat more viable. It can be really difficult to come back from N in certain scenarios, but this just means that you’ll need to focus more attention on properly thinning your deck for the end game.
I haven’t done extensive testing against this deck, but from what I’ve seen the deck has a hard time outspeeding your setup. The most important part of this matchup is Startling Megaphone, as without it the matchup tends to turn sour, either due to Focus Sash or Fighting Fury Belt on the already massive 190-HP Zygarde-EX. It’s not too difficult to play around Tools, however, and Startling Megaphone is generally useful enough so that it doesn’t become a dead card against other matchups.
Item lock decks include Vileplume, Trevenant BREAK, and Seismitoad-EX. Most of this matchup is dependent on if you’re able to go first, and if not, if you’re able to draw either Lysandre or Hex Maniac at the right time. Unfortunately there isn’t much to say here, other than the fact that you might want to be careful how much you extend in order to get set up on your first turn. It’s important to set yourself up so that you’re able to KO their attackers on future turns, but benching too many Shaymin-EX or other Pokémon you’re unable to retreat without Items or Energy attachments may end up costing you valuable turns.
The true nightmare for any Night March player is a fully set-up Giratina-EX AOR. Fortunately I don’t think any builds using Giratina-EX are going to be consistent enough to warrant play at Nationals, but it is possible that a higher percentage of players will choose to play the card because it’s a direct Night March counter. The only hope you have against Giratina-EX is to Knock it Out before it’s able to attack, unless you’d like to include a 1-1 line of Marowak FCO — which I personally don’t believe is necessary currently. Additionally, if Giratina-EX becomes more and more popular, playing Night March altogether should be reconsidered. As the metagame currently stands though, I would suggest taking this auto-loss when it comes up. Or, of course, getting lucky!
My primary goal for this article was to broaden your knowledge and understanding of Night March, and I truly hope that I’ve done that. Alternatively, I don’t want anyone to believe that I think the deck is good for the format or that I enjoy basing my wins on good starts and good draws. I’m personally very excited for the advent of Steam Siege and any new cards that would balance the format — Night March truly needs a hard counter that’s playable in any deck. Until that time comes, however, I’m still advocating for it as the best deck in the Standard format.
Thanks again for reading! If you’re going to US Nationals, please come and say hi! I’d love to talk to anyone who reads all the way down the end. Good luck!
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