What’s up, Underground! I’m elated to be coming to you here with my debut article! I’ve always enjoyed writing about Pokémon, and Adam was kind enough to give me a shot writing for the most prestigious Pokémon TCG site out there. I wrote for the site recently, covering my top 8 finish at Phoenix Regionals, but I figure I’ll briefly introduce myself here:
I’m a Master from the great flyover state of Minnesota, and I’ve been playing this great game since Black Friday of 2008, right when Stormfront released. I didn’t have much success in my earlier years of playing, but since my time in college began, I’ve had much stronger showings, even earning an invitation to compete in the 2015 World Championships. I’ve always been fond of slower set-up decks, and especially the Energy trans/Max Potion archetype (bring on Lunala!), having success with both Klinklang and Aromatisse. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling around the country to play Pokémon, and soon I’ll be making my first trip across the Atlantic to continue doing so in London.
Outside of Pokémon, I’m a recently graduated history major from the University of Minnesota, and I currently do sales for my uncle’s construction company. I’ve been fortunate enough to make enough money to live “the dream”: having a good six months free from work and any responsibility, with a chance to travel all over the country/world to play Pokémon. I enjoy playing video games, watching football and movies, going to the gym, and, most importantly, hanging out with my friends. As this is my first article, I wanted to bring a full exposé on my current favorite deck (and second all-time), and what I believe to be a great play for Fort Wayne: Greninja! Let’s jump right in!
Thoughts on the Format
For the past year, I made it no secret to anyone that would listen that I actively detested both Standard and Expanded format, almost exclusively because of Battle Compressor. I think the card was one of the worst things to ever happen to the game, and in general made for a horrible playing experience. In Standard, at least, we’re finally free! As a result, we’re seeing a few things we haven’t in a while, like decks that run multiple copies of more Supporters than just Juniper/Sycamore, or decks that aren’t weak to Psychic or Lightning. Standard format, for the most part, is pretty diverse and, in my opinion, more enjoyable, if only because there’s less solitaire involved.
While Evolutions doesn’t bring too much to the table as far as meta impact (no new archetypes and a handful of playable cards), I think that some of the timely promo releases alongside the set have gone a long way in changing up the format: Beedrill-EX and a new Greninja are both great (the former has a wider range of use than the latter, but both will be discussed in greater detail below). In addition, a new promo Magearna has released seemingly under the radar, and follows in line with Mewtwo EVO as a hard counter to a popular archetype.
Despite Evolutions not doing so itself, I think these releases can very rapidly change a format, sometimes to a pretty significant degree, which keeps things fresh. Expanded has been so rigidly defined that the only decks that seem to break through are exceptionally powerful (to match the format’s runaway power creep), whereas Standard is a bit more manageable. The selection of decks may feel more limited (pick your color of speed!), but I think that’s only natural when you cut from a format cards that have been crucial in shaping the game for almost two years. It’s refreshing to see a meta that’s a combination of non-EX Basic-, non-EX Evolution-, EX-, and Mega-based decks, something we haven’t seen since at least 2015 with the release of Spirit Links. This diversity will only expand with the release of GX cards (effectively the old ex mechanic, which has me quite excited) and whatever else comes from Sun & Moon. All and all, I think we’re on the right track to walking down off the edge of the cliff and towards a slower, healthier game overall.
Well, the reason is twofold! First, I have always been a believer in the frog prince since my Nationals run with it, and feel it is the deck best poised to take down any tournament, provided your list is tight and you’ve got a bit of luck is on your side. For me, Greninja epitomizes what I love about Pokémon: it’s a setup deck, and requires a ton of pieces to get going, but once done, is almost unbeatable. It’s a deck that actually requires the evolution of your Pokémon, which is a refreshing change from the suffocation that is a game dominated by Basics. It’s a deck that feels like it can win almost any game (now a little less so, because of Garb), and the game isn’t truly over until your opponent has taken all six of their Prizes.
Second, I believe the meta is shaping up favorably for it. I don’t need to tell you that Gardevoir is poised to do quite well (Brit does a great job covering it in his article), and has warped the meta around it: decks like Mewtwo/Garb and Darkrai/Giratina/Garbodor may fall out of favor a little bit, while things like Volcanion and Scizor may see a bit more play. Gardevoir has hated away a faction of the Garb, which is the only thing keeping Greninja down. As tournaments have grown exponentially, there may still be a lot of Garb in the field, but in general, I think Greninja is poised to do well against a good chunk of it.
I want to start by sharing my current list, and discuss some big cards that are and aren’t in there. Then, I’ll share my take on a list closer to Sam Chen’s 11th place list, with Octillery, and finish the article with a discussion of matchups and my closing thoughts.
(Note: I’ll be using GWS as an abbreviation for Giant Water Shuriken throughout the article.)
… and that will conclude the free preview of this Underground article.
Underground Members: Click here to log in and continue reading.
Other Users: View the registration page for more information if you are interested in joining Underground and reading the rest of this article.