If At First You Don’t Succeed …

Nationals Report, the Night March Phenomenon, Karen’s Dilemma, and Decks for Worlds
oshawatt fly sky diveyoutube.com
“Parachute? What parachute?”

A wise man once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not for you.” While that is true and morbidly humorous, the better known and more applicable version of this saying is, of course, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Well, I certainly did not succeed at US Nationals this year, but I intend to try again at Worlds. In fact, I put up my worst tournament finish ever at Nationals, so there’s really nowhere to go but up from there.

Today I’m going to share my Nationals experience with you all. I’ll try my best to identify what went wrong and how things ended up they way they did. I am also going to offer some thoughts on certain decks for Worlds. If you are not going to Worlds, I still think this article can be informative if you play any amount of Pokémon in the Standard format within the next two months. I currently have enough CP to enter the so-called “glorified grinder,” also known as Worlds Day One. I’m working on the logistics of the trip so hopefully I’ll be in San Fran.

Nationals Report

I played this monstrosity for the tournament. My second pick was M Manectric-EX/Giratina-EX/Trevenant-EX, followed closely by Vespiquen/Bats and Animal Control.

Pokémon – 18

3 Jolteon-EX

2 Sceptile-EX AOR

2 M Sceptile-EX

1 Yveltal-EX

1 Regice AOR

3 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Oddish AOR

2 Gloom AOR

2 Vileplume AOR

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore

2 N

2 AZ


4 Ultra Ball

4 Trainers’ Mail

3 Revitalizer

3 Float Stone

2 Battle Compressor

2 Acro Bike


4 Forest of Giant Plants

Energy – 12

4 Double Colorless

4 Rainbow

2 G

2 L

This was another attempt at a deck that could do everything. Unfortunately, June was a busy month for me. I did not get to test this deck or many other concepts nearly as much as I would have liked to. My most extensively tested decks were the ones that I shared with you in my last article. In hindsight, I should have actually played either Animal Control or Vespiquen/Bats for the tournament.

I played this deck because it beat everything … in theory. I only got around to testing three matchups. They were Night March, Greninja, and M Sceptile-EX. The deck quickly established highly favorable matchups against all of them, and I theorymon’d the rest. I do think that having an abundance of options and a lack of time are legitimate excuses, but I still should know what can win and what can’t.

Protip: Do not theorymon your matchups for US Nationals.

In theory, having 19 accelerants (again, meaning turn 1 draw outs) makes for a consistent deck that won’t dead-draw on you. In theory, Jolteon + Vileplume beats half of the meta and my other techs beat the other half. In theory, the term “accelerants” will become a thing if I say it enough times.

In theory, any given deck that you are considering beats the entire meta. My limited testing showed no terrible problems with the deck, but limited is the key word there. Here are how my rounds went for me:

R1 vs. Metal (0-2)
R2 vs. Greninja (2-0)
R3 vs. Trevenant (0-2)
R4 vs. Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor (1-2)
R5 vs. M Latios-EX/Crobat (2-0)
R6 vs. M Rayquaza-EX (1-2)

… Drop.

I decided I had enough after Round 6 and dropped. Below are the rounds in detail for those interested. I wanted to include this for the sake of a thorough tournament report, but feel free to skim or skip it. The losses might be entertaining but the wins are fairly straightforward.

Round 1 vs. Metal

In the very first game of the tournament, I go first with guns blazing. My opponent started with Aegislash, no matter. I go off and hit the T1 Vileplume with a couple of Jolteon and an Energy. I win right? My opponent goes and Sycamores away around 6 Items. Throughout the rest of the game my opponent was able to play plenty of Supporters and Item lock didn’t seem to damage him as much as I had hoped.

No access to AZ spells trouble.

One not-so-tiny detail was that I didn’t manage to get a Float Stone on that Vileplume. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but I also had to Sycamore away both of my AZ on the first turn. This left me with no ways to pull Vileplume to the Bench, barring manually attaching Energies and retreating it. Plume gets Lysandre’d. Ok. I retreat it. Plume gets Lysandre’d again. I retreat it again. But then I deck out. Aegislash is annoying.

Game 2 I whiffed the T1 Plume, which is fine. I only expected it around 50 to 60 percent of the time anyway. What wasn’t expected is that I prized 3 Forests, so I had to manually evolve the Oddish up into a T3 Vileplume. My opponent started Aegislash and got a Fury Belt on it. That was relevant because now M Sceptile-EX (my answer to Aegislash with 2 basic Energies) couldn’t 2HKO the ‘Slash with Jagged Saber. I lost a very close Game 2. If Aegislash had 10 less HP or lacked Fury Belt, I would have brought it to Game 3, which would have been a tie. My opponent also ran 2 AZ and 2 Lysandre, and was able to make excellent use of them in both games.

So at that point in time I chalked it up to bad luck. Discarding both AZ, getting Plume stranded twice, and prizing 3 Forests? As I said then, “It doesn’t matter because I beat every deck in the format.” If only.

Round 2 vs. Greninja

In Round 2 I was handed a free win. Did you know that Sceptile loves frog legs? It also loves frog head, frog meat, and generally likes eating frogs. That match lasted all of 10 minutes.

Round 3 vs. Trevenant

Game 1 started off great. I went second to the ever-lovely turn 1 Trevenant. You know what they say though; don’t dish it if you can’t take it. It got better after that and I was able to make it a close game in the end. Yveltal-EX did not make an appearance because I was never able to search for it due to Item lock, though I almost didn’t need it. Sceptile has this awesome attack called Sleep Poison. It does a whopping 10 damage (that’s a 16HKO on a Trevenant BREAK, mind you), and if you flip heads it inflicts Poison and Sleep. This makes a combo with Unseen Claw, which does 60, but does 70 more if your opponent’s Active is affected by a Special Condition. Sleep Poison + Unseen Claw kills Trees. There’s no time for Mega Evolving.

Anyway, I got my opponent down to 1 Prize and he only had 1 Trevenant left. I N’d him to 1, and I bumped his 3rd Dimension Valley. He had a Trevenant sitting on the Bench with 1 Energy on it (and 5 Energies in the discard). My opponent needed to Tree Slam that turn for the game or else I would win. Lo and behold, off the N to 1, my opponent found one of his few remaining Energies and his 4th Dimension Valley. So it goes.

In Game 2, I started with Yveltal-EX and my opponent started Shaymin. I thought I’d win the game easily, and that it would be a good idea to start powering up Yveltal so I could just run through my opponent’s board. I knew he didn’t run Hammers, but he started with his lone copies of Xerosic and Team Flare Grunt! After a Xerosic play and a Mail for Grunt, I knew I had to retreat Yveltal and power it up on the Bench in order to avoid Team Flare Grunt. Past that, I only remember that it was a close game but I ended up losing.

Shoutout to my opponent, Austin Ellis, for being a fun person to talk to and joke with during the game.

Round 4 vs. Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor

I went first for Game 1 of Round 4. I got my T1 Vileplume and my opponent scooped right there. I lost a close Game 2, as Garbotoxin came into effect and nullified my main advantage of Vileplume. Hydreigon-EX was able to trade with a Jolteon, and my opponent used Lysandre and VS Seeker to take the rest of his Prizes.

Game 3 painfully illustrated a weakness of the 2-2-2 Vileplume line. I was all set for the game, but I had to Sycamore away 2 Revitalizer on T1. Not the worst thing in the world right? I drew Forest, Gloom, Ultra Ball, Acro Bike, and I believe Shaymin off of my Sycamore. That was fantastic! I played the Acro Bike, and my options were Oddish and Vileplume. I hadn’t searched my deck yet, so I obviously went for the Oddish with Gloom and Forest already in hand. I eventually went in with Ultra Ball to find the first-turn Vileplume, but it was prized!

After being forced to discard 2 Revitalizer and a Vileplume, my last hope was with the 3rd Revitalizer which was still in the deck. I managed to dig through 10-15 more cards with Shaymin-EX and Trainers’ Mail in an attempt to find the Revitalizer. This would have essentially won me the game by establishing the T1 Plume. Unfortunately, I whiffed it and lost in a similar fashion to Game 2. Jolteon + Vileplume was all I needed in the matchup, but I was unable to find the win condition in the final two games.

Round 5 vs. M Latios-EX/Bats

This round started off scary, as I opened lone Oddish going second against a Latios-EX. Luckily, I don’t think my opponent ran Muscle Band or Fighting Fury Belt. She ran Spirit Links instead. Of course I was worried because I didn’t know that at the time, but I survived the turn and set up a quick combo of Vileplume + Jolteon. Both games were fairly easy because Item lock put in the work, and my opponent did not draw very well with Vileplume in effect.

Round 6 vs. M Rayquaza-EX

This is a simple matchup where all I need to do is establish Regice + Vileplume. In Game 1, I was quickly destroyed. Neither of us saw any Vileplume pieces, so the T1 Vileplume in Game 2 was quite the surprise for my opponent. I didn’t even use Regice in Game 2 but won easily because of the first turn Item lock against an Item-reliant deck. I remember Game 3 going unfavorably in some way or another but I don’t recall specifics.

Oh, more support for NM!

Afterward, I had a blast in the side events. I made the mistake of falling into the trap of the 4-round tournies. Those took forever and it wasn’t until too late that I realized that the 8-man pickup tournaments were much more efficient at amassing quick tickets. Regardless, they were all fun to play in. I played in two of the slow tournaments and three or four pickups. I enjoyed confusing some people in side events with Night March/Zebstrika BKP and Medicham/Carbink, all while accumulating a decent amount of prizes, so the weekend was still worthwhile. As usual, I got to see friends from all around the country and meet new people as well. It was great.

I do feel obligated to talk briefly about Zebstrika. It’s so effective in Night March. I played a 2-2 line of it in an otherwise typical Night March deck, though I had to omit Fury Belts to include it. I think that Zebstrika could have been a fantastic inclusion for Night March decks for Nationals. Its Zap Zone Ability disregards ALL protective effects as long as you’re attacking with a Lightning-type Pokémon. I won games against Jirachi’s Stardust, Jolteon’s Flash Ray, and Aegislash’s Mighty Shield because Zap Zone lets Joltik hit right through them.

Zebstrika’s Crashing Bolt is also incredible. It functions as an extra attacker which preserves Night Marchers. For just a DCE, it does 50 damage, plus 60 more if the Defending Pokémon has a Fighting Resistance. It is basically an extra Night Marcher against things like Yveltal and Shaymin-EX. Crashing Bolt is also capable of landing a 1HKO on Trevenant, or a 2HKO on Trevenant BREAK. This won me a match against Trevenant, as you can’t normally use Items to power up Night March. No Items needed for Crashing Bolt.

The Night March Phenomenon

Night March won US Nationals, and it took up almost 40 percent of the Day 2 spots. If the same ratio of Night March decks to total players was the same during Day 1, that would mean that approximately 380 Night March decks were present during Day 1. I think it’s safe to assume that at least 300 Night March decks were actually there, and the actual number could have been more than 400. If not anything else, the appearance of all the Night March was certainly a phenomenon.

Night March was “the play” for US Nationals. This much is obvious, because it won the tournament. However, I still don’t see Night March as a strong choice for Worlds. I would be more enticed by a deck like Seismitoad/Giratina. That deck only had one Day 2 spot (and presumably few entrees), yet it managed to take 2nd place because it was able to deal with a majority of the mainstream decks. Props to Marcos Garcia for recognizing that the outdated deck was actually a fantastic choice for the tournament.

I also am not thrilled by the thought of playing Night March in this format due the amount of hate being thrown toward it. All sorts of Item lock decks are doing somewhat well, be it in the form of Vileplume, Trevenant, or Seismitoad. There was also a presence of Giratina-EX at Nationals, though this isn’t as much of a problem with Pokémon Ranger coming out in Steam Siege. Additionally, I wouldn’t be comfortable with the amount of close matchups that can easily go either way for Night March. When I say this I am thinking of decks like Waterbox and Greninja.

Another reason that I don’t love Night March is because it typically does not win by skill. You will not win the Night March mirror by being better than your opponent unless your opponent is truly unfamiliar with the matchup. You won’t beat Trevenant with Night March simply by virtue of being a better player. Same with the Vileplume/Vespiquen matchup, and the list goes on. To be fair though, the same could be said of some other decks and matchups in the format.

I do think that Night March takes skill to play optimally, but not necessarily to play successfully. With a whole host of unfavorable and close matchups, it takes luck to win them. The raw strength and consistency of the deck is sometimes enough to outmatch any matchup though, and that is what draws so many players to the deck.

For me, Night March is fun to play. I enjoy running through my deck and swinging for massive amounts of damage with little Joltik. Who doesn’t? Zebstrika adds another dimension of play and enjoyability to the deck. I have no qualms with playing Night March at a side event or a League Challenge, but I just do not see it as a good pick for Worlds.

No matter how much I dislike Night March as a personal play, you can’t argue with results. Night March had an astounding showing at US Nationals and it has been a consistent powerhouse in Standard throughout the year. If Karen is not printed, Steam Siege will bring Night March’s power to new heights. Special Charge is an easy way to recycle precious DCEs, and Pokémon Ranger is an incredibly effective counter to Giratina-EX. I will most likely not play Night March for Worlds, but you can expect many others to do so. Its power, speed, and proven results are the reasons why Night March is here to stay.

Karen’s Dilemma

karen promo crop@autobottesla
When will she get here?

Editor’s note: It has been confirmed that Karen will not be in Steam Siege. The following was written prior to the finding.

When talking about Worlds, the elephant in the room is Karen. The million-dollar question is: “Will Karen be released in Steam Siege?” In case you are not aware, Karen is a Supporter that is soon to be released as a Japanese Promo. With the announcement that Steam Siege will be legal for Worlds, some are speculating that Karen will be included in the English set. Otherwise it could be released as a Promo at some point or it could be in the set after Steam Siege.

Karen states that each player shuffles all Pokémon in his or her discard pile into his or her deck. This is obviously reminiscent of Lysandre’s Trump Card, and just as obviously has a huge bearing on Night March. Karen cripples Night March by resetting its damage output to zero with each use. Night March does not recover Battle Compressor and other such cards when Karen is used, so it has to replenish the discard with Night Marchers by using its finite resources.

My hypothesis is that Karen will not be in Steam Siege. This is just my gut feeling. I don’t think that Pokémon would change the game so drastically between Nationals and Worlds, or that we would not have confirmation of said change by this point in time. Additionally, the rest of the World usually gets Japanese cards after Japan does. As far as I know, Karen has not yet been released anywhere. As for the rest of this article and my current testing, I’m assuming that Karen will not be in the set.

I personally hope that Karen will not be in Steam Siege, though I think it would be better for the game if she was. The only reason I don’t want what’s better for the game for just this one tournament is because I think the meta will be more easily exploitable and predictable with no Karen. Obviously I want all the help I can get to win Worlds, and I believe a Karen-less format will have insane amounts of Night March and Item lock.

Decks for Worlds

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Bats and the Bees — if no Karen, please.

Now I want to look at a few current decks (plus one new one) and how they are positioned going into Worlds.


Vespiquen/Bats is another deck that I discussed last month. I am testing Vespi/Bats for Worlds as my number 1 pick right now, though I changed the list up for an expected shift in the meta.

Pokémon – 28

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

4 Combee AOR

4 Zubat PHF

4 Golbat PHF

3 Crobat PHF

2 Yveltal BKT

2 Unown AOR

1 Jirachi XY67

4 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainers – 24

4 Professor Sycamore

2 N

2 Lysandre

1 Hex Maniac


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Battle Compressor

2 Escape Rope

1 Super Rod

Energy – 8

4 D

4 Double Colorless

Karen would outright kill this deck. Otherwise, it’s probably the best deck for a no-Karen meta. It beats Night March, Trevenant, and Vespiquen/Vileplume. Yes, I’ve tested against all of those. Vespi/Bats has a solid core strategy and a fairly consistent engine so it can hold its own against many random decks. Let’s look at some of the changes I’ve made since testing this deck for Nationals.

0 Jolteon-EX

I used to play 2 Jolteon, which were intended for Darkrai/Giratina and Metal decks. I don’t expect these decks to be that popular at Worlds. Pokémon Ranger makes Giratina’s niche as a Night March counter non-existent. Jirachi can help against any rogue Giratina you may encounter should the need arise. Hex Maniac and Yveltal BKT (not at the same time!) are fantastic against Metal, so you don’t really need Jolteon anymore.

2 Yveltal BKT

Yveltal is one of my favorite cards from my States version of this deck. It is phenomenal against Trevenant for obvious reasons, and it works great against V/V too. Opening with Fright Night can strand random Pokémon Active, and Lysandre + Fright Night on Vileplume is strong as well. Pitch-Black Spear is incredible against decks with Pokémon-EX, as long as you can attack with it at least twice. Otherwise it just isn’t worth the Energy investment.

1 Jirachi XY67

Jirachi was mainly included for the V/V and Toad/Tina matchups. You actually want to ignore it in the Night March matchup unless you are really in a bind. Against Night March you want to attack with Crobat, Vespiquen, or Shaymin-EX most of the time. Jirachi puts in work against the two aforementioned decks which rely on Special Energies.

Jirachi combined with Yveltal and this deck’s natural resiliency to Item lock provide Vespi/Bats with enough advantages to do well against Vileplume/Vespiquen. Jirachi also breaks Quaking Punch or Chaos Wheel locks if you don’t have a better option for dealing with them right away.

2 Escape Rope

Escape Rope provides the deck with an easy way to switch between Pokémon. They are necessary with the inclusion of Yveltal BKT. Escape Rope always ends up forcing tricky situations for your opponent and it has some synergy with the Bats’ Bench harassment. I love it.

Quad Wobbuffet

Pokémon – 4

4 Wobbuffet PHF

Trainers – 56

4 N

4 Professor Birch’s Observations

4 Xerosic

4 Team Flare Grunt

3 Delinquent

3 Lysandre

2 Shauna

1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork


4 VS Seeker

4 Robo Substitute

4 Enhanced Hammer

4 Crushing Hammer

3 Head Ringer

3 Revive

2 Repeat Ball

2 Captivating Poké Puff

1 Target Whistle


4 Team Aqua’s Secret Base

Energy – 0


The idea for this monster came when I was considering options for a Quad Wobbuffet deck. The thought was to have a guaranteed Ability lock at the start of the game. Nobody likes it when their opponent opens with Wobbuffet. However, with the only Basics being 4 Wobbuffet, you are left with only Maxie’s and Archie’s as options to get attackers into play.

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The squad.

Since Wobbuffet is a poor attacker all on its own, Maxie/Archie shenanigans were left as the only ways to facilitate legitimate attackers. Unfortunately, you can’t really sustain any sort of Prize trade, especially against Night March, when you rely on those Supporters to chain attackers. So then I thought, why not make Quad Wobb a stall deck like Wailord? At least the concept is proven.

Against some decks, the strategy is straight-up Energy denial. Against most decks, the strategy is to lock something Active for the entirety of the game and to let your opponent draw-pass themselves into oblivion. Energy suppression cards are used to stop your opponent’s Active Pokémon from ever retreating (or from being a threat with its own attacks).

This deck is still in its early testing phase, but it is showing some promise. I’m not going to go over matchups for it because I have only played one or two games against most of the decks right now. I have played a lot against Night March and Dark though, and they are highly favorable for Wobbuffet. Let me explain some of the card choices.

4 N, 4 Birch, 2 Shauna

I chose an unconventional draw Supporter line for this deck. Sycamore is excluded completely because I never want to discard things. I also don’t have the need to dig through the deck to the extent that normal decks do. As for the rest of them, N is better than Birch, and Birch is better than Shauna.

I do need a decent amount of draw Supporters so that I won’t run out of Pokémon, and this deck also needs to keep a flow of disruption cards coming in order to continually deplete the opponent’s resources. 10 draw Supporters seems like a high count, but it is important use the VS Seekers on disruptive Supporters rather than draw Supporters.

4 Xerosic

I don’t think that 4 Xerosic is overkill. It is an Energy denial tool which naturally helps the deck, but more importantly it removes Float Stone. Float Stone would otherwise be a major impediment to this deck’s entire strategy, but Xerosic is a great counter. Its versatility and reusability with VS Seeker make it superior to Startling Megaphone. Xerosic is also fantastic at removing Tools which would otherwise be in the way of Head Ringer.

3 Delinquent

First of all, Delinquent is used as a Stadium counter. Some Stadiums, like Dimension Valley, are important for the opponent to have active against this deck. Delinquent provides more outs to a Stadium counter besides your own Stadiums. Delinquent also forces your opponent to discard 3 cards from their hand.

Against small hands, this will discard important resources. Since your opponent might not know exactly what they are dealing with, the odds are higher that they will make a mistake and discard incorrectly. Delinquent is also a pseudo-mill card. It discards 3 from the hand, which is the same as discarding from the deck if N is ever played. When you think about it this way, it can be considered more powerful and consistent than Team Rocket’s Handiwork. Of course, both of them have their own benefits.

1 Team Rocket’s Handiwork

team-rockets-handiwork-fates-collide-fco-112You always want to be in a situation where you have more cards left in your deck than your opponent. This is so that your opponent will passively deck out before you do. If for some reason you are at a card deficit, Team Rocket’s Handiwork can fix that for you. Handiwork also accelerates the deck-out process if you find the need for that, and if you are lucky you can destroy precious resources.

I would like to have a 2nd copy because it seems like such a great card to have in this deck. However, it doesn’t really contribute to the goal of stranding something Active. While it obviously plays to the win condition of decking your opponent out, Handiwork doesn’t seem like a terribly necessary card.

3 Revive

Revive seemed like an obvious fit. You force your opponent to KO 6 Wobbuffet in order to win the game amidst all of your disruption. You math geniuses out there are probably saying that 4 Wobbuffet + 3 Revive = 7 Wobbuffet. Right you are. Since this deck has no legitimate way to take Prize cards, a prized Wobb or Revive will be stuck in there. I run 7 outs to Wobbuffet in an attempt to avoid a bad Prize scenario, but there’s still the chance that 2 outs are Prized.

2 Captivating Poké Puff, 1 Target Whistle

If your opponent won’t play any stall targets for you, these cards can force them to the Bench. I would like to have a 2nd Target Whistle but I haven’t figured out if I can cut anything for it. Poké Puff is by far the best card from Steam Siege for this deck. You get to see exactly what is in your opponent’s hand which is huge for this reaction-based deck. It lets you know exactly what effect N or Delinquent will have.

The best part is that Poké Puff actually forces your opponent to Bench any Basics of your choice. Since players typically accumulate large hands in the game of draw-pass that occurs with this deck, Poké Puff often forces many juicy Lysandre targets into play. Puff + Delinquent can sometimes bring your opponent’s hand down to 0. Captivating indeed.


Greninja seems to have dropped off the face of the earth as of recently. I think it will be affected by TPCi’s decision on Karen, but I also think it will benefit either way. Should Karen be printed, Greninja will be one of its biggest abusers. Karen recovers all discarded Frogs in one fell swoop and simultaneously cripples Night March and Vespiquen. Greninja will enjoy Karen.

On the other hand, Greninja seems to be rather well set up the way things are. It has an established (though occasionally disputed) favorable matchup against Night March. With Rough Seas it can beat Trevenant fairly easily, especially now that most Trev lists have made the switch from Bursting Balloon to Hammers. And with 3 or 4 Jirachi, Greninja has a great chance at beating V/V. Jirachi can stall and disrupt V/V while Greninja slowly sets up under Item lock.

Greninja is a dark-horse play for Worlds. A lot of players will write it off after its failure to succeed at Origins, Canada Nationals, and US Nationals. Greninja is still a capable deck and is one of the most fearsome things to sit across when it’s all set up. Don’t sleep on the frog guys.

Item lock: Trevenant and Vespiquen/Vileplume

These two decks are similar in that they can easily achieve the dreaded T1 Item lock. Item lock cripples Night March, so it’s only natural that these decks will be played to prey on the better-than-ever versions of Night March at Worlds. Karen will directly hit V/V by resetting Vespiquen’s damage output, and will indirectly affect both of them by decreasing the popularity of Night March.

I think that Trevenant is the stronger of the two heading into a Karen-less Worlds format. I also think that Trevenant builds should incorporate heavier counts of Wobbuffet PHF. I’ve seen a lot of lists dropping the card entirely and I am not sure why. It is a strong attacker after your opponents have been softened up by Silent Fear. It is also a great starter if you are going second against something like Night March or V/V that relies on Shaymin.

V/V always seems like a powerful deck in theory, but it is clunky and fragile. V/V can be dismantled by odd situations and it can’t function very well under its own Item lock. It also doesn’t work consistently, as you have to draw incredibly well and get somewhat lucky to achieve the dream setup on T1. These are the reasons why V/V’s successes are so erratic. V/V does have a distinct advantage over Trevenant though, and that is its Waterbox matchup. V/V can beat most Waterbox lists easily while Trevenant struggles to even take Prize cards in that matchup.

Animal Control 2.0

In my last article I shared a crazy deck that used Corphish PRC, Diggersby XY, Trick Shovels, and Red Card + Delinquent that aimed to lock your opponent out of the game. The hand control and topdeck control that this deck possesses is insane. It’s a very strong and legitimate deck. I almost played it for US Nationals. It has good matchups against anything that is not Item lock or something that can disrupt its strategy.

Unfortunately, if Karen is not printed, that means that there will be a lot of Night March present. Steam Siege only strengthens what is already the BDIF with cards like Special Charge and Pokémon Ranger. Night March is a favorable matchup for Animal Control, but the expected increase in Item lock decks is crippling. If you think Item lock will be heavily played, do not play Animal Control. Conversely, if you don’t expect too much Item lock, I suggest that you check out my last article for a rundown of this rogue. My list hasn’t changed since the last time I wrote about it.

If Karen is printed, it will probably decrease the amount of Item lock. Karen is strong against Vileplume/Vespiquen, and Item lock loses a lot of its luster with Night March being scared off by Karen. There is a lot of theory and guesswork going on here, but if Karen comes out in Steam Siege, I would consider Animal Control to be a highly viable play.


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The proper form for throwing a curveball.

Right now there is a bit of a lull between tournaments, especially if you are not going to Worlds. If you are looking for your Pokémon fix but aren’t testing for Worlds (or next season) yet, I have to mention the obvious solution of Pokémon GO. This is one of the best things to happen to the franchise, and once again it is “cool” to play Pokémon. The game itself is enjoyable and odds are you will run into other people playing it. If you’re the social type, this game can be the link to strike up a conversation almost anywhere.

On a TCG-related note, I recommend trying out some old formats if you have the time and a friend or two. Old formats are a lot of fun to explore and mess around with. There was a Google doc posted on Virbank recently with proxies and lists all ready to go if you are interested in older formats.

As far as Worlds, I suggest trying out the decks I mentioned in this article. Night March is definitely the deck to beat as long as Karen stays in Japan. (Editor’s note: Which it is.) While I didn’t do too hot at Nationals, I am going to have some more time to test for Worlds so I hope to do much better in San Francisco.

Thanks for reading! I didn’t represent rogue well at Nationals, but exploring new ideas and thinking outside of the box are always options worth considering. Vespi/Bats isn’t the craziest thing in the world, but is looking to be a solid choice for Worlds. Animal Control, Wobbuffet, Greninja, and Trevenant also seem like top picks at the moment. If you have any questions about any of my decks or ideas, feel free to PM me or ask in the comments. Hope to see you at Worlds!

…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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