The Neo Revelation

Further Origins, Trevenant BREAK, V/V, Greninja, Heavy Metal, and Two Outliers
Wailord strikes again!

Things move quickly in this game: when I was last with you, we were gearing up for the conclusion of the Expanded format in the 2015-16 season. I had a decent run in the final two weekends of Spring Regionals, playing a Night March list two or three cards off from the one I shared to 9th place in Madison and a Top 4 in Edmonton. In total, I took Swiss losses to mirror (×2), Trevenant (though I went 2-1 overall against it over the two weekends), Toad/Bats, and M Manectric/Jolteon before falling in my Canadian Top 4 to the ultimate meme: Wailord. 9th and Wailord weren’t exactly my ideal outcomes, but I’m poised to make a run at top 16 NA with a decent Nationals finish, and I can’t ask for much more than that.

The buildup to Nats is always an exciting period in the game, and this year will be no exception. What does makes this year unique will be the amount of information available to players beforehand: typically, we have Canadian Nationals immediately preceding the United States’ event, with a litany of European and Latin American events as further prelude.

This year, however, American players have their own opportunity to try their hands at the Nationals format on a large scale prior to the big day. Hundreds of players will join the multitudes descending on Columbus for Origins Game Fair — ironically, the original home of Pokémon’s National Championships. This year, Pokémon has provided a “Win-a-Trip-to-San Francisco” tournament to headline its slate of events at Origins. The stakes were already mildly high with such an attractive prize, but on Monday, news broke that this event will offer State Championships-level Championship Points. With that announcement, many players have made late-breaking plans to attend this weekend, and it’s possible that we’ll have a Regionals level of competition on hand.

With that in mind, a lot of information will be gleaned from this weekend. But first, obviously, we have to get there! As you know by now, I’m continuing a two-part series from Alex Hill’s Tuesday piece. Alex covered Night March, the Dark side of the format, and the Water Toolbox that has swept Europe by storm. Today, I’ll be covering Trevenant BREAK, Vespiquen/Vileplume, Greninja, and Metal to round out the format. Between our series and Russ LaParre’s piece from last week, I believe we’ll have covered every deck one could dream of playing at this point in the format.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Trevenant BREAK

Pokémon – 16

4 Phantump BKP

4 Trevenant XY

3 Trevenant BREAK

1 Wobbuffet PHF

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Absol ROS

Trainers – 36

4 Professor Sycamore

3 Wally

2 N

1 Delinquent

1 Team Flare Grunt


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Crushing Hammer

1 Enhanced Hammer

2 Red Card

1 Float Stone

1 Super Rod


4 Dimension Valley

Energy – 8

6 P

2 Mystery

wally-roaring-skies-ros-107Let’s be honest: this deck is pretty well beat to death at this point. There’s only so many ways to set up a Trevenant, and I simply focus on achieving the turn 1 as consistently as possible. For that reason, I choose to play 3 Shaymin, 4 Trainers’ Mail, and the 3rd Wally that I often see omitted.

I strongly prefer Hammers over Bursting Balloon at this juncture. Bursting Balloon is inherently reactive, which is a trait in a card that I absolutely loathe. Crushing Hammer allows me to proactively reduce my opponent’s board state, which I believe is just as effective as any utility provided by Bursting Balloon. Weakness Policy is a bit of an enigma in my mind, and for now, I omit it for consistency. Its allure would be to help the Zoroark BKT situation — one can easily run through this deck. But, for now, I believe greater consistency toward the turn 1 lock is the greater goal.

Also in that vein, I play a non-standard count of Mystery Energy. I prefer the value of attaching/retreating a Shaymin start (into a Dimension Valley-assisted Ascension) over the extra Wobbuffet out. Simply, I’m going to start Wobbuffet less than Shaymin. It’s a small thing, but sometimes those are the factors that decide a game.

Russ well covered the deck otherwise, and I’d echo his thoughts on the efficacy of Red Card.

Tech Options

2nd Delinquent: Often, I find that the Water Toolbox matchup is surprisingly winnable. A 2nd Delinquent to help control the Stadium situation works well for turning the tides (so to speak). It’s also effective against M Manectric and other decks that try to sneak in Rough Seas.

Silent Lab: Item lock is strong. The only thing better than Item lock, as those who have played Expanded Seismitoad/Crobat can attest, is Ability lock with Item lock. There are lots of ways to manipulate a game with Silent Lab, and I believe it’s an option very well worth considering.

2nd+ Wobbuffet: As we just discussed, Ability lock is useful. I personally prefer to keep the Item lock active and believe it’s the superior option in most situations, but Wobbuffet can be a helpful finishing attacker.

Latios-EX ROS: A consideration in anything with P Energy (in my mind, at least), but this probably isn’t the best place for it. If we start to see Vespiquen/Flareon take back off, Latios will be tempting to play because of Combee’s 40 HP, but otherwise we’re left to prey mostly on Joltik and not much more.



  • Vespiquen/Vileplume — Highly Favorable
  • Night March — Favorable (but be wary)


  • Greninja — Slightly Unfavorable
  • Water Toolbox — Slightly Unfavorable
  • Mega Manectric — Unfavorable
  • Dark — Highly Unfavorable

Basically, Rough Seas is your enemy and Dark shreds you. “Dark” can be any variant of Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade or anything playing Zoroark in general. I caution you that Night March is deceptively loseable, particularly if you go second. Greninja much depends on the lists in question — I’m assuming 3 Rough Seas and 1 Delinquent for the sake of this assessment. Obviously, the odds are variable depending on how those tech counts are delineated.

In general, if it’s not obvious, I don’t think much of this deck’s chances. Item lock is strong, but spread’s counters are numerous, so I’m looking elsewhere.


vileplume plants
Irritating Pollen … I wonder why they called it that?

For those familiar with Alex’s and my writings, this deck is presently a mainstay in our Standard arsenal. Item lock is, as you may have heard me mention, game-breaking.

Pokémon – 29

4 Oddish AOR

3 Gloom AOR

3 Vileplume AOR

4 Combee AOR

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

4 Unown AOR

2 Jolteon-EX

4 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Bunnelby PRC 121

Trainers – 23

3 Professor Sycamore

2 AZ


4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

2 Acro Bike

2 Battle Compressor

2 Float Stone


4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless

4 L

This list is fairly straightforward. I don’t yet buy into the necessity of Lysandre, but I’ll be testing it more in the future and that stance could shift. The 4th Lightning has made its way into the list as a tech against Metal (and things playing Aegislash in general), as achieving a Jolteon with 3 basic Lightning is an effective game-ender. I like the 2nd Jolteon for the sake of prizing and consistency, but it could be a potential cut option if you’re pressed.

I continue to advocate for Jolteon, however. It can shut decks down, particularly under the confines of Item lock, and that’s an incredibly powerful trait. Glaceon-EX will probably never find its way into my lists, as I simply believe it’s too easily played around to be worth including in any deck. It isn’t difficult to simply not evolve.

This deck’s strength is in locking the opposition out of games, and the list is made to accommodate and accentuate that. If you’re looking for a cut, the 4th Unown is probably the first thing to go.

Tech Options

Honestly, there’s not much to be said here, but I’ll offer a few thoughts:

Jirachi XY67

Mostly useful against Giratina-EX, and if Giratina sees play, it’s perhaps worth considering. Otherwise, it’s not useful in enough matchups to make its inclusion worthwhile in my mind.

Acro Bike vs Trainers’ Mail

I favor Trainers’ Mail in the split due to its greater usability in finding the key card to the combo: Forest of Giant Plants. Without FoGP, nothing in the deck happens.

3rd+ Battle Compressor

I don’t think much of Battle Compressor in here, but it’s a necessary part of the equation in thinning the deck and boosting Vespiquen’s attack. I just don’t believe it’s useful enough to justify higher counts.



  • Water Toolbox — Highly Favorable
  • Night March — Highly Favorable
  • Greninja — Favorable
  • Dark — Favorable (depending on Lysandre/Yveltal BKT counts)


  • Mega Manectric — Unfavorable
  • Trevenant — Highly Unfavorable

Generally, things that are Weak to Grass and susceptible to Item lock are easy matchups, while things that can easily set up a 100+ damage attack (or spread) are highly difficult. That manifests itself in Mega Manectric being a problem and Trevenant being a nightmare, while Night March and Dark fall prey to Item lock issues.

The problem with Dark can be Yveltal BKT’s ability to shut off Float Stone and effectively lock Vileplume Active. The 2nd AZ is intended to help with that. Meanwhile, Greninja has to be navigated carefully, but generally is a favorable affair.


Pokémon – 17

4 Froakie BKP

4 Frogadier BKP

3 Greninja BKP

1 Greninja XY

3 Greninja BREAK

2 Jirachi XY67

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

1 Ace Trainer

1 Fisherman

1 Lysandre

1 Wally


4 VS Seeker

4 Dive Ball

2 Ultra Ball

1 Level Ball

4 Trainers’ Mail

2 Rare Candy

2 Hard Charm

1 Sacred Ash

1 Energy Retrieval


3 Rough Seas

Energy – 8

8 W

rare candy purpleBulbapediaRare Candy is probably the only significantly strange inclusion in the list, and even it has seen some popularity in recent times. It’s difficult to chain “Stage 3s” as it is, so I’ve chosen to include Rare Candy to help add another dimension to the deck.

N takes this deck to another echelon of playability, as it both adds a usable Supporter option for early game and a late-game disruption utility. Ace Trainer still has a home in here, as it allows you to achieve that disruption while still providing some level of resources to utilize that turn. To finish out the Supporter line, Wally acts as part of that extra dimension of speed that I mentioned previously.

Russ covered Hard Charm, so I’ll dispense with that here. Jirachi Promo is obviously a strong card in a litany of scenarios, but I’m not convinced on the usability of the oft-included 3rd copy.

Tech Options

Silent Lab

Like in Trevenant, it’s a solid disruption option. Particularly in this deck, the late-game N (or Ace Trainer) + Silent Lab can effectively shut down an opponent’s strategy. I choose not to include it because Rough Seas is supremely strong in a number of matchups, and the space simply isn’t there to dedicate to a 4th Stadium.

Octillery BKT

Another card that often makes its way into Greninja lists, I choose to omit it because it requires a significant space dedication (AZ, Float Stone). Octillery could be included over the Rare Candies if you felt so compelled, but it pains me to make the necessary cuts to then fit switch outs.

Assault Vest/3rd+ Hard Charm

I choose to stick to Hard Charm for Water Toolbox and other non-DCE-wielding matchups, but if you wanted extra Night March insurance, Assault Vest could be a decent idea. I’m not completely sure it’s necessary. If you wanted to play more Hard Charm, that would also be an acceptable choice, but I’ve concluded that 2 is a reasonable count.



  • Water Toolbox — Favorable
  • Dark — Favorable
  • Mega Manectric — Slightly Favorable
  • Trevenant — Slightly Favorable
  • Night March — Slightly Favorable


  • Vespiquen/Vileplume — Unfavorable

It’s not hard to see why Greninja is attracting a lot of hype. It’s an inherently strong deck as a result of Greninja BREAK’s bulk and versatility, and its non-EX status is a desirable trait as well. N shifted the Night March matchup and titled a lot of the others further our direction, making Greninja a foe to be reckoned with. Largely, the game is decided on whether or not Greninja manages to set up and maintain its momentum, which is why I focus on things like Rare Candy to help accelerate and maintain.

Its primary challenger is Metal, which we’ll get to next, but otherwise Greninja is well poised for success. Mega Manectric is a very strange matchup, but I mostly throw it in the positive pile because you can eventually wear down their Rough Seas tactics and take EXs for non-EXs. Trevenant is similarly weird, but I favor Greninja’s relative ease of setup under the lock and ability to easily cycle 2HKOs.

Overall, Greninja is a certain contender for the best deck in this format. It also is easily susceptible to Hex Maniac and other tricks, however, so it’ll be interesting to see how its playability evolves over Origins and Canadian Nationals.


Pokémon – 16

3 Bronzor FCO

1 Bronzor PHF

3 Bronzong PHF

1 Bronzong FCO

1 Bronzong BREAK

2 Aegislash-EX

2 Genesect-EX FCO

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Heatran PHF

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore

2 N

1 AZ

1 Hex Maniac

1 Lysandre

1 Giovanni’s Scheme


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Trainers’ Mail

2 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Battle Compressor

2 Float Stone

1 Assault Vest

1 Muscle Band

1 Super Rod

1 Escape Rope

1 Switch


2 Sky Field

Energy – 9

9 M

The player base has had a collective headache over the past few weeks in trying to solve the mystery of Metal Fortress and Shadow Stitching. If you aren’t aware, the controversy surrounds Bronzong FCO and Greninja BKP and the interaction between their effects. There’s generally agreement in the world that a Benched Bronzong FCO protects itself from Shadow Stitching’s clutches, and by extension, its fellow Bench-sitters, but what happens after that is murky. Even in Japan, the fate of Pokémon that come into play after Shadow Stitching’s use (and under Metal Fortress’ protection) is an open question.

Regardless, it’s worth a spot.

Generally, if Bronzong FCO comes Active at any time, all protection ends — that much is generally understood. It’s a bit less universal, but still fairly well accepted that any Bronzong PHF/other Pokémon with Abilities that enter the Active Spot lose their Abilities for duration of the turn, no matter whether or not they end up back on the Bench. As a rule of thumb, it appears (according to Japan), there is no currently legal way (except Pokémon Ranger of XY11) to retroactively remove the effect of Shadow Stitching. Just some notions to keep in mind as you’re testing the matchup. Hopefully we get clear, final English ruling fairly soon.

As for this list, I strike unsatisfying balance between Aegislash and Genesect mostly because they’re both excellent niche attackers. Genesect provides bulk and power, while Aegislash is a defensive option viable against much of the format. Heatran and Bronzong BREAK fill the non-EX attacker role quite well, with Bronzong BREAK providing unparalleled flexibility in taking Prizes against small Basics (or, Shaymin-EXs) late in the game.

Hex Maniac is a valuable tool against Greninja in a pinch, but to add another layer of headache to the above drama: if you use Hex Maniac and your opponent follows up with Shadow Stitching, you simply have no Abilities on the following turn. (Bronzong FCO is superseded.) Use sparingly.

Giovanni’s Scheme is useful as a pinch draw out and for hitting key numbers with the range of attackers. With it, Heatran/Muscle Band can reach 170 and Genesect requires 1 less Energy to hit the typically-magical 180. Notably, Bronzong BREAK only receives the bonus once.

Tech Options

1-1 M Rayquaza-EX/Hoopa-EX

Odds are good that this sounds insane, and to a degree, it is. The idea is to add a durable, fast attacker to a list that otherwise moves rather slowly. Sky Field is already in the deck, making it a relatively compatible inclusion. Hoopa-EX would definitely make its way into the list if I added Rayquaza, as the ability to easily search both halves of this combo at once would be valuable. This deck also typically doesn’t do much on turns 1/2 (and can hide behind Aegislash on other turns), meaning it has relative freedom to consume its end-of-turn phase on the Mega Evolution.

Double Colorless Energy

Going with the above option, DCE makes sense as a potential inclusion. It also fuels Aegislash in a pinch, and I’m definitely wondering if 2 copies might be able to find use in here.

Reverse Valley

If only less decks played Stadiums, this would be a great inclusion. As it is, the Stadium war keeps me from deeming this a worthwhile use of a spot.

Max Elixir

This gives the deck an otherwise not present element of speed in its setup, and can allow for a fairly consistent turn 2 attack (which can otherwise be a fleeting goal). Generally this allows damage to add up quickly. The downside is the pressure to run more Energy and its otherwise general requirement of deck space. Consistency takes a hit, and this isn’t a deck that can easily afford such a luxury. Right now, I’d cut Heatran, the Assault Vest, and a Battle Compressor for 3 copies if I went that route.



  • Water Toolbox — Favorable
  • Dark — Favorable (depends on list content)
  • Trevenant — Slightly Favorable
  • Greninja — Slightly Favorable
  • Vespiquen/Vileplume — Slightly Favorable (depending on list content)


  • Night March — Slightly Unfavorable-Even
  • Mega Manectric — Slightly Unavorable

I struggle to place most of these matchups into this dichotomy (and confess that it’s not exactly my favorite practice with any deck), but this is generally where I end up on them. Once again, it’s obvious that this is a threat to contend for the top at Nationals. Trevenant obviously depends greatly on your ability to get Bronzong FCO out — if you do, between Resistance and the death of Silent Fear, I strongly believe you’ll have all the time you need to set up attackers. They’re slow games, though, so it’s important in a best-of-three environment to keep the pace moving and scoop an ugly game if needed.

A Max Elixir variant like what we saw in Italy this past weekend probably has stronger matchups against those “Slightly Favorables” in the middle, but aforementioned sacrifices in greater overall consistency which is why I’ve stuck with this route thus far.

This ends my discussion of the big foes in the meta. Between Alex, Russ, and I, I’d argue that every major foe in the format has been well-covered at this point. To finish off today, I’m going to look at two possible options that haven’t received a ton of attention but have a very real chance to capitalize on the metagame that we’ve laid out over the last few days. I’m going to abandon the writing format Alex and I have used this week in covering these two decks in favor of my usual style of deck discussion, mostly because I haven’t tested the following ideas quite enough to offer a matchup spectrum on them.

M Sceptile-EX

Pokémon – 13

2 Sceptile-EX AOR

2 Sceptile-EX XY53

3 M Sceptile-EX

1 Spinarak AOR

1 Ariados AOR

1 Virizion AOR

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

Trainers – 38

4 Professor Sycamore

2 N

1 Lysandre

1 Hex Maniac

1 Fisherman

1 AZ


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Super Scoop Up

3 Sceptile Spirit Link

2 Assault Vest

1 Tool Retriever

1 Super Rod

1 Mega Turbo


4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 9

9 G

Basically, capitalize on the Night March hate — all while having an outside chance against the little ones yourself. Theta Stop is obviously tremendous against Greninja, and the type advantage over Seismitoad and other common foes is tremendously valuable. Couple that with the healing provided by M Sceptile’s attack and the speed of Forest of Giant Plants and there’s a recipe to potentially capitalize on the Nationals metagame.

Naturally, this has a rough time with Night March — though, not as rough as you might think. Forest of Giant Plants allows a turn 1 evolution sans Spirit Link, and this deck can almost always afford to waste its T1 on such a venture. This allows the placement of an Assault Vest post (or even pre) evolution with little downside. 260 is a number beyond Night March’s abilities without Megaphone or other tech, so it provides a boon in that matchup and more. Tool Retriever makes its way into the list in this vein.

He’s mean … he’s green … his claw is unseen!

Agility is a decent option for stalling, so I play a 2/2 split. I could justify 3/1 as well, but I definitely believe it’s beneficial to play at least 1 of the promo. Additionally, the smaller Sceptile can’t be overstated as decent attackers: hitting for heavy damage isn’t exactly this deck’s modus operandi, and these mitigate that to some degree.

Ariados has made its way out of some lists that I’ve seen floating around, but I still strongly believe in its inclusion as a way to enable M Sceptile to 1HKO Shaymin-EX and the use of Sceptile-EX AOR. In a pinch, it’s a good way to get around the likes of Regice AOR (obviously, Virizion AOR is preferred for that), and blocking retreat is never a terrible thing.

Fisherman is excellent for enabling M Sceptile’s attack, and Hex Maniac is a natural fit in a deck that has very little reliance on Abilities. Otherwise, the list is pretty straightforward — as it has to be to make this all work. The lone copy of Mega Turbo is in and out of my list: it’s not useful in every game, but it often provides a well-timed burst to produce an especially good turn. It’s not an effect that I feel is worth devoting more space to, but certainly it is an option to continue considering.

Overall, this deck is inherently strong against the likes of Manectric, Dark, and Vespiquen/Vileplume: concepts that don’t 1HKO effectively and thus are susceptible to Sceptile’s healing tricks. Moreover, beating Greninja/Water Toolbox is a relatively simple task due to Weakness (although, Water makes things difficult with Fighting Fury Belt — we simply need to pursue resilient attacks against it).

This deck’s typing, ability to abuse Assault Vest, and Theta Stop make it a potential foe to be feared heading into the next few weekends. I’d definitely consider this deck as you’re making final preparations.

M Audino/Yveltal

m audino-ex 16-9
Hear me out on this one …

As we draw to a close here, I’d like to highlight one final creative thought. M Audino is a card that many have found intriguing that hasn’t managed to take off to this point. Inherently, 3 for 160 isn’t a terrible trade-off, and the snipe is a nice accessory to have. The immediately obvious partner is Yveltal BKT, and that’s the route I’ve chosen to take at this point in time:

Pokémon – 16

3 Audino-EX

3 M Audino-EX

2 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP

2 Yveltal BKT

1 Yveltal XY

1 Lugia FCO

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Lysandre


4 VS Seeker

4 Max Elixir

4 Ultra Ball

3 Trainers’ Mail

3 Audino Spirit Link

3 Float Stone

1 Super Rod

Energy – 13

9 D

4 Double Colorless

110 + 50 isn’t a great spread, but the math adds up pretty quickly for Shaymin-EX and 170-HP EXs in general between M Audino and Yveltal BKT. Garbodor acts as an anti-Metal/Greninja/actually-a-shocking-amount-of-the-format counter. Of particular importance is disabling things like Bronzong FCO, which completely shut down the deck’s advantage.

Otherwise, while it’s obvious that Zygarde and the like will certainly cause trouble for M Audino, there aren’t a ton of existential threats. 220 HP is rather bulky, and the Night March matchup is surprisingly doable: Garbodor + late N can simply win games by dead-draw (also true in a lot of other matchups and is a general strategy I try to employ).

Something you may want to consider: Absol ROS makes obvious sense here for its damage-movement Ability, but I didn’t include it here because I rarely seem to find a use for it. If it made its way back into the list after more testing, an AZ would accompany in the interest of reusing it.

Lugia FCO is an underrated part of this format, and quite honestly, generally something I’d include in any deck playing Max Elixir and Double Colorless Energy. Easily 1HKOing Shaymin-EX — and setting EXs up for Audino/Yveltal snipe KOs — is a supremely valuable option to have, and the fact that it isn’t easily and routinely KO’d back is a serious draw.

I haven’t quite tested this enough to offer much more than the obvious on its matchups: you’ll beat the things that can’t hit 220 easily or fold to Ability lock, and lose to the ones that can/don’t. The key, in my mind, is that the former category is beginning to overtake the latter in our metagame, and that’s where this deck’s playability starts and ends.


ash ketchum tracy sketchit happy smile palm tree warm 3-2
Remember to enjoy yourself, even with all the big prizes on the line.

Once again, our season is coming to a close. It’s been a fantastic year thus far, and I look forward to seeing friends old and new at events over the next few weekends. Today’s (yesterday’s, as you’ll read this) Expanded League Challenge at Origins reminded me to sometimes bring the game back to its basics: I played Wailord today, and my Round 3 Senior opponent seemed to be just learning to play — and, as such, featured 26 Energy in his deck. I somehow won, but the mutual enjoyment of such an absurd set of circumstances (my opponent thought my five consecutive Flare Grunts were hilarious for whatever reason) brings home the fun that can actually be had playing this game.

I’ll probably offer something in the forums once I get home from Origins this weekend recapping my experience at the event and thoughts on its impact going forward, so check back there on Monday or Tuesday. I covered a lot of ground today, intentionally without my usual level of list explanation depth to help prevent anyone from being “caught up in the details,” so to say. If you have any feedback on the approach Alex and I took this week/my writing today or questions on my lists today, you know where to find me.

See you around,


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