Considering Connecticut with Vancouver Vigor

Gearing up Garbodor with Drampa, Golisopod, and Espeon for Canadian Competition
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Travis has been running around like an anime character on an Electrode!

Greetings friends. Travis Nunlist back with a Pre-Regionals piece just in time for the upcoming Vancouver Regional Championships. I’m especially excited for this event for multiple reasons. First and foremost it will be my first Regional Championship of the season! My life has been rather busy since the season began and I haven’t been able to keep my event attendance as high as I would like, but that means I’ll just have to ensure I’m that much more prepared for each big event I am able to attend.

Another reason I’m incredibly hyped for the event is that I’ve actually never traveled outside of the US for a Pokémon tournament before! I missed all four of the IC tournaments in the previous season and have never made it to Canada or Mexico for the handful of Regional/Special events they get each year, so having to bring my passport to go to a Pokémon event is a brand new experience for me! Canada is a country I’ve never been to, and I have heard nothing but great things about the Vancouver area so I’m incredibly excited to travel to a new place.

Unfortunately I don’t have anymore recent League Cups to report in on. Event space has been incredibly competitive around SoCal, with half the battle being getting into the events at all. To date I’ve now missed out on three (3!) different League Cups because the event capped before registration even began. This is something I never would have dreamed would be an issue even a year ago, but such is the current climate of the Pokémon TCG. Showing up to registration 10 minutes before it closes with 3/4 of a deck is now a thing of the past.

I’m not sure if there is a good way to solve this, especially when most (but not all) of the events aren’t offering pre-registration and instead have chosen to operate on a first come first serve basis. I’ve heard stories of local players lining up for events up to 2 hours before registration even begins to ensure they get a spot. Maybe my own hubris is in impatience, but I simply do not have the attention span or desire to sit outside of a venue for hours before an event even begins to ensure I am able to participate.

A solution I would love to see implemented is more consistent access to Pre-Registration at these events. Some common issues I’ve heard about with this implementation are pre-reg players no showing preventing an event from filling up that very easily could or should have, and online pre-reg discouraging new/local players from attending events at their local shops due to an event filling up before they even knew it existed.

I think a reasonable solution would be to offer up something like 50-75% of the spots available for online registration before the event, closing it off sometime between a couple days before to the morning of the event, and leaving the rest open on a first come first serve basis. This will ensure the more serious competitors are able to secure a spot without a significant time investment, and allow enough space for last minute decision makers to ensure they have the opportunity to compete. Granted, this is just the opinion of one competitive player, and I’m certain there are a lot more factors taken into consideration than I’m giving the situation credit for, but I do believe there are some adjustments needed for the swelling popularity of the Pokémon TCG.

Standard Thoughts

With that out of the way, I had originally intended to do a brief analysis of the most successful decks from Hartford Regionals, but our own Pablo Meza already did a fantastic job of that here so I don’t see a need to rehash similar information. Instead I’ll focus entirely on my top plays for Vancouver and why I am considering each option.

Looking at the result spread above posted by Complexity Card Game’s Facebook page we actually see a pretty diverse field of decks. The two most important takeaways from these results for me:

1. Gardevoir is the clear and obvious BDIF of the BKT–BUS format. There isn’t a deck in the game right now that can avoid considering their Gardevoir match up going into any event with a chance at going the distance. Even Gardevoir-GX decks are considering their Gardevoir match up with the rising popularity of cards like Sylveon-GX and Parallel City finally finding their way into the forefront of deck discussion. Even though it fell in T4 at Hartford it would be incredibly unwise to discount the deck moving forward.

2. The game is almost entirely oriented around Abilities in one way or another. Even moving past the fact that Tapu Lele-GX is in every single deck in the game, it seems like just about every deck either utilizes powerful abilities to push energy/damage or tries to shut them off with Garbodor BKP.

With these takeaways in mind the decks I want to focus on today are Garbodor BKP variants. The results of Hartford have left me quite enamored with Garbodor moving toward Vancouver and am very prepared to sleeve up the trash monsters for the event should I settle on them as the best play.

Gearing up Garbage

Drampa-GX/Garbodor

Pokémon – 17

4 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP

2 Garbodor GRI

3 Tapu Lele-GX GRI

2 Drampa-GX GRI

1 Eevee SUM

1 Espeon-GX SUM

1 Espeon-EX BKP

1 Tapu Koko SM30

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Sycamore

4 N

4 Guzma

1 Brigette

 

4 Choice Band

4 Float Stone

4 Ultra Ball

2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

 

3 Po Town

Energy – 12

7 P

1 Rainbow

4 Double Colorless

I generally prefer to include skeletons and discuss possible additions to decks, but considering that Vancouver is just around the corner, it felt more useful to push a full list and consider concrete adjustments. This take on Drampa/Garb was first piloted by none other than Tord Reklev to a second place finish at Bremen Regionals. Ian Robb took the exact same list to a T4 finish at Hartford, further showcasing the strength of the deck.

Not a solo player anymore!

The hybrid take on the Espeon-GX and Drampa-GX variants of last season seems very powerful moving forward, and gives your deck a ton of flexibility based on the match up. The Espeon-EX/Po Town package has seen a sizable increase in popularity as a response to the dominance of Gardevoir-GX. I included a Tapu Koko Promo to aid this strategy, as I felt like relying exclusively on Po Town and Divide-GX for spread felt like it was always just a bit short of being as effective as I wanted it to be. I’ve found the promo to be especially useful against Greninja, as the 110HP non-EX is annoyingly difficult for them to deal with pre-BREAK, and it is almost always able to pull off a couple of Flying Flips before it goes down.

I’m still not sold on the 2/2 split of the Garbodor line against anything except Gardevoir, but in initial testing I haven’t noticed the difference too much and find myself drawing into Garbodor BKP more often which means having to rely on Ultra Ball for it much less. I’ve definitely had a lot of games Hit Points where all you want to do is Trashalanche for the rest of the game until you win, and having access to only 2 of these makes doing so that much more difficult.

I felt like the 5/3 split on Psychic/Rainbow energy was a bit too much for the deck. Having to attach a Rainbow to Garbodor GRI after taking damage from Po Town is horrible against something like Greninja that can easily touch 80, but not much higher without use of Abilities. I still like having the 1 Rainbow around as an option to activate Beserk, but overall I like having more Psychic energy for Energy Evolution and to prevent myself from over damaging my board.

The Tapu Koko promo is definitely the most flexible spot in the deck, but some other adjustments can be made depending on how you want to focus the list for the perceived Vancouver meta. The 4/4/4 on Sycamore/N/Guzma and 4/4 on Choice/Float are counts I would never consider touching. Half the reason that Drampa/Garb is so good is because of how consistent it is at doing what it wants to do every game. Maxing out these essential cards is imperative to ensuring you do not miss game changing beats at crucial times.

List Considerations

-1 Tapu Koko SM30, +1 Hala/2nd Rescue Stretcher

As previously mentioned the Tapu Koko promo is the most cut-able thing if you’re looking for some other inclusions in the deck. Hala is what Tord and Ian played to help maximize consistency for the deck. The supporter is very underrated right now as shuffle draw 7 is essentially a Professor Sycamore that can save your resources. The only downside is that you have to have used your GX attack in order to get the full 7, but Drampa/Garb often enjoys using Big Wheel-GX early on in the game anyway so this is rarely an issue.

A second Rescue Stretcher gives you a bigger safety net for your Pokémon, and can be crucial in match ups like Volcanion where your ability to keep both Garbodor in play is crucial to winning.

-3 Psychic +3 Rainbow -1-1 Espeon-GX + (Pick Two) Tapu Fini-GX, Magearna XY165, Jirachi XY67, Turtonator-GX

If the 1-1 Espeon-GX doesn’t vibe with you then there are plenty of other attackers that Drampa/Garb can utilize to cause some trouble. Golisopod-GX variants have been utilizing Tapu Fini-GX for a while now for the Tapu Storm-GX attack, and with proper adjustments there’s no reason that Drampa cannot do the same! Shuffling away a huge threat can be game changing and having a water attacker after Volcanion won the most recent Standard Regional is definitely appealing.

Magearna XY165 is a card I’ve always had a bit of affinity for after using it in M Scizor during Ft. Wayne Regionals last year. It is included almost exclusively for the Gardevoir matchup, but can find use vs Ninetales-GX as well. Your opponent will essentially have to walk face first into it in order for it to score a 1HKO, but it can still deal a respectable amount of damage for a single attachment. At 90 HP it forces the Gardevoir-GX player to attach a second energy in order to score a 1HKO against it, which can be especially frustrating under Garbotoxin. Jirachi XY67 fills a similar role, but its application is a bit more broad while dealing less damage on average.

Turtonator-GX is a card I have come to enjoy in more than just fire decks. Shell Trap is such a powerful attack that any deck utilizing DCE can find use for it. With so many 200hp+ threats in the meta that leaving whatever your opponent attacked with at -80hp coming into your turn can be the difference maker in scoring a knockout. The fire typing is very useful against Golisopod and Metagross decks, and at 190 HP, Turtonator itself is quite the tank. Turtonator-GX gives you a lot of interesting plays and room to maneuver as the effect of Shell Trap is quite unique.

Golisopod-GX/Garbodor

Pokémon – 18

3 Wimpod BUS

3 Golisopod-GX BUS

3 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP

1 Garbodor GRI

3 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Drampa-GX

1 Tapu Fini-GX

1 Tapu Koko SM30

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Sycamore

4 N

4 Guzma

3 Acerola

1 Brigette

 

4 Choice Band

4 Float Stone

4 Ultra Ball

2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

Energy – 11

4 Double Colorless

4 Rainbow

3 G

Something I immediately noticed and found to be mildly humorous is that the only difference in the T/S/S line between this and Drampa is 3 Po Town vs 3 Acerola. I’ve noticed a lot of decks have a very similar core T/S/S line and is probably more of a testament to a limited post-rotation card pool than anything else. When trying to dig into the list and find flex space I noticed that the list is actually incredibly tight. Running two Stage 1 lines takes up quite a lot of space, and leaves very little room for creativity.

Bulbapedia
Public Enemy #1?

The obvious issue with this variant is the fact that Fire Decks took up 3/8 spots at Hartford, and even won the event. This would leave one to assume that Fire decks will be incredibly popular at Vancouver due to their proven strength and ease of access to all the cards needed for the deck through tins, promos, etc. While the Fire match up is certainly not favorable, I don’t think it is quite as atrocious as it seems to be on paper. Tapu Fini is capable of doing a respectable 100 damage while running to the bench quickly enough, and Garbotoxin is a very strong partner itself with Tapu Lele-GX and Drampa-GX. Another thing to consider is how well Fire did at Hartford, encouraging Vancouver players to beat it. If Fire is hated out to the edges of viability, then it gives Golisopod an opening for a comeback in a big way.

My inclusion of Drampa-GX came from reviewing the T8 list of Peter Kica at the event, and it fits incredibly well with the deck. Peter actually lost to the Drampa/Garbodor deck in T8. My assumption is now that Po Town is more of a staple in Drampa/Garb it gives them a much easier out to scoring a KO on a Golisopod-GX that had to take 30 from evolving. Interestingly enough. this match up was also seen in the finals of Bremen Regionals, where the Golisopod deck proved victorious, indicating the match up is quite close.

List Considerations

-1 Trubbish BKP +1 Wimpod BUS

We saw the 4-3 and 2-3 lines of Golisopod and Garbodor respectively in Peter’s Hartford list. While I do love having another Wimpod, I’m not a fan of cutting a Trubbish for it. I don’t think there are any match ups where you want less than 2 Trubbish down, and if you prize one or have one Knocked Out early then you’re limited to only 1 Garbodor evolution per game which can give your opponent a lot of extra room to maneuver.

-1 Drampa-GX +1 Magearna XY165/Jirachi XY67/Turtonator-GX

The Magearna/Jirachi/Turtonator options would be included for essentially the same reasons as listed above for Drampa/Garb, so I won’t be repeating myself here, but rather wanted to ensure they were again highlighted as considerations for the deck. I don’t think Turtonator-GX is as viable an option here as in Drampa/Garb because Golisopod-GX essentially commits to a two shot on everything anyway, but it is still something I’ll be trying out in my preparations for Vancouver.

Espeon-GX/Garbodor

Pokémon – 18

3 Eevee SUM

3 Espeon-GX SUM

3 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP

2 Garbodor GRI

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Drampa-GX

1 Espeon-EX BKP

1 Tapu Koko SM30

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore

4 N

4 Guzma

1 Brigette

 

4 Float Stone

4 Ultra Ball

3 Choice Band

2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

 

3 Po Town

Energy – 12

8 P

4 Double Colorless

This deck has essentially been ruled dead due to the loss of VS Seeker, and even more notably so by our own Jimmy Pendarvis and Xander Pero who found massive success with the deck at the most recent World Championship. While I’m not certain I have ever considered the deck dead, it did become significantly weaker with the loss of VS Seeker and the type-changing eeveelutions. However, the results of Hartford have given me new hope for the success of “The Psychic Princess. The inclusion of Drampa-GX gives the deck a kind of reverse hybrid feel similar to that of the Drampa/Garb deck mentioned above.

The devolution strategy has actually felt very potent in this deck in the matchups where you want it. In addition to the Po Town and Tapu Koko package, we now have more consistent access to Divide-GX, which is a game changer for our spread/devolve strategy by speeding up the counter placement. Constant Confusion is as powerful as ever with the loss of VS Seeker reducing the amount of Guzma one can play in a game, but the flip side of that is the higher physical copies inside of each deck which can pose its own set of problems. The extra 20 HP between Espeon-GX and Drampa-GX can be game changing as well, and has been felt the most in the Fire matchups, depending on their tools of choice.

The rise of Fire decks would ideally scare off Golisopod/Garbodor, which was probably the most difficult match up for Espeon-GX (because of their high counts of switching and heal effects along with a 1-energy attack). Greninja was a difficult match up last format for Espeon, but the inclusion of devolution should make it significantly better. The same goes for Gardevoir-GX, a match up that was considered close before the inclusion of devolution options and has only gotten better with their addition. Espeon-GX is a very powerful attacker against Volcanion-EX and Ho-oh-GX because of the high amount of energy each attacker takes, but can struggle a bit against Turtonator-GX because of the discard effect of Bright Flame.

List Considerations

The differences between this deck and the Drampa/Garbodor list (not counting energy) are as follows:

-2-2 Espeon-GX +4th Choice Band, 4th Trubbish, +3rd Tapu Lele-GX +1 Drampa-GX

With the exception of Drampa we’re essentially cutting a bit of consistency to include a thicker Espeon-GX line. While I’m not certain this makes for a better deck, it is absolutely something on my plate for the upcoming weekend. I have really liked Espeon-GX in this format, and have played plenty of games where having access to another one would be incredibly useful, but I’m uncertain if it’s truly worth the cuts. The only cuts that I really notice/miss while playing with the deck are the 4th Choice Band and 4th Trubbish, which could be an argument for a compromise at 2-2 Espeon-GX. Only testing will get me the answer I’m looking for, and hopefully that will come sooner rather than later!

Conclusion

filb.de

As far as deck choice for the weekend is concerned, my current #1 option is some kind of Garbodor BKP/GRI variant including both Drampa-GX and Espeon-GX. Greninja is probably the only deck that I’ve really enjoyed this format, but without an easy out to Giratina XY184, you’re always going to be at the mercy of how well prepared the meta is for you. After the impressive second place showing at Hartford I would not be even a little bit surprised to see the masses dusting off their Giratina Promos to combat an anticipated rise of the Frogs. Ensuring a much more favorable match up against a deck that you’re certain you’ll play against at least once is very appealing at large events where 6-1-2 records have proven to be unsafe for Day 2.

I can start to feel myself getting more and more excited for this weekend as I write. I haven’t played nearly as much Pokémon lately as I’ve been wanting to and am beyond hyped to finally be able to make it to a Regional Championship, especially one in a place that I’ve never been to! While I’m not the most thrilled in the world about the current format, I do think this is due to to how restrictive deck building feels because of the limited card pool despite the relatively high amount of viable decks. I believe I told my good friend and testing partner Kenny Wisdom recently that I think this format is really good, but I don’t like any of the decks. Luckily for me, how much I like a deck is not nearly as important as how well I play it or how comfortable I am with it, which is something I have much more control over. Until next time!


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