Hello everyone! Travis Nunlist back again and I’m really excited to review a lot of happenings in the game as well as finish up some last minute preparations for the upcoming Portland Regional Championship! Since my last piece I’ve attended three League Cups as well as the Costa Mesa Regional Championship. I didn’t do as well as I had hoped at either event, but I did get some solid results and good testing in with some interesting decks. The two most fun decks were the Rampardos deck Christopher discussed last week I played at a League Cup and the Glaceon/Barbaracle deck piloted by Alex, Christopher, Xander, and myself in Costa Mesa. I did play some more conventional decks like Zoroark/Skyfield and Zoroark/Gardevoir at my other League Cups as well. My events went like this:
League Cup #1 (Expanded) Zoroark/Skyfield/3 Red Card
T8 Zoroark-GX/Skyfield WLL (Sudden Death)
Sudden death is lame, and I got my Zorua KO’d on T2 despite a Red Card/Hex on my first turn of the game after going second. It was after this event I decided I did not want to play Zoroark mirror all day in Costa Mesa, so I spent a few days building hard counters to Zoroark-GX. After brainstorming everything I could think of that could beat Zoroark-GX I eventually crafted the Glaceon/Barbaracle deck we played for the event.
Costa Mesa Regional Championship (Expanded) Glaceon/Barbaracle
Round 1: Zoroark-GX/Skyfield LWT 0-0-1
Round 2: Zoroark-GX/Skyfield WW 1-0-1
Round 3: Noivern-GX/Garbodor WW 2-0-1
Round 4: Zoroark-GX/Skyfield WLL 2-1-1
Round 5: Zoroark-GX/Skyfield WW 3-1-1
Round 6: Primal Groudon-EX WW 4-1-1
Round 7: Primal Groudon-EX LL 4-2-1
Round 8: Noivern-GX/Garbodor WW 5-2-1
Round 9: Zoroark-GX/Skyfield WW 6-2-1
I really stumbled out of the gates in the early rounds of the tournament as I just couldn’t get the deck to setup properly. My game and set loss against Zoroark in R1 and R4 respectively were due entirely to unplayable openings that lead to a swift defeat by the horrifyingly consistent deck that is Zoroark-GX in Expanded. The second Primal Groudon-EX deck I faced ended up as my downfall, as the deck was able to get the best of me the second time around.
I felt like I was in a great spot to pull off a win in Game 2 until my opponent hit Tapu Lele GX/Scramble Switch off an N to 4 that allowed him to move the Psychic Energy off of his Primal Groudon onto the Tapu Lele to heal ~300 damage off of two Primal Groudon, and effectively crush my chances at making Day 2. Overall I was very happy with the deck choice and my only regret was playing Team Flare Grunt over Delinquent and the 3rd Cynthia over the 4th VS Seeker.
League Cup #2 (Standard) Jurassic Park (Talonflame/Rampardos)
Round 1: Raichu-GX/Garbodor W 1-0
Round 2: Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor W 2-0
Round 3: Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX W 3-0
Round 4: Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX W 4-0
T8 Zoroark-GX/Weavile WW
T4 Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX LL
This is definitely one of the most fun decks I’ve played in a long time and I’m glad I decided to give it a try at a League Cup. Everything was going incredibly well with an undefeated run up until I hit a wall in T4 with some bad draws and bad Prizes all coming in at once. Being the first person to cut an event with Unidentified Fossil is always fun too. Overall, I still really like the deck and think it has a lot of potential, but there is going to need to be a bit of adjustment now that everyone is onto it and aware of the concept.
T8 vs Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX LWL
Despite moderate success, I think I regret playing this the most. I’m glad I got in a few tournaments games with it to really get a feel for the deck in that kind of an environment, but the entire thing felt a bit fragile to me and very prone to being run-over by a lot of the more aggressive decks in the format if you are unable to evolve into your Stage 2 Pokémon quickly. T8 was brutal to me, as I didn’t open with a Brigette until G3 and horrible prizes coupled with T2/T3 Bloodthirsy Eyes KOs on Ralts proved too much for the deck to handle. I wish I would have just played Rampardos again as I want more experience with the deck to get a feel for its long term viability.
Looking forward to Portland, it seems to me like Standard has begun to centralize itself now that a lot of the dust regarding Ultra Prism has begun to settle. It seems rather clear that the format is Zoroark Decks, Buzzwole decks, and then everything else is Tier 2-3 at the moment. Portland Regionals is in a unique position considering we have a promo card, Lucario-GX, becoming legal just before the event and looking to make an impact. I’m uncertain if Lucario-GX will actually make a huge impact, but the card is interesting enough to warrant some attention and testing.
Today we’re going to look at some brews I’ve put together in an attempt to counter this more-focused metagame that we will most likely see in Portland, along with a single deck featuring Lucario-GX that I think has a ton of potential going into the event, and may be a variant not on everyone’s radar. As it turns out, just about any card or cards we can play to target Buzzwole will also be very good against Lucario-GX because of their shared weakness. My thought process behind a lot of the wackier concepts is that any deck we can craft that can figure out how to be favorable against both Buzzwole and Zoroark variants is certainly going to be a powerful play for Portland Regionals.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 35
Energy – 10
I have been absolutely enamored with this deck lately and cannot seem to give up on it. Christopher went over most of the card choices in the deck as well as the general strategy, but the most interesting addition right now is the Spiritomb UPR. I included this card as a way to wall Buzzwole-GX and the occasional Tapu Koko Promo in the early game to give you a bit more time to setup your birds and dinosaurs. I’m not actually certain if the card is any good yet, because it is relatively easy for Buzzwole to work around considering they all run 4 Float Stone and 4 Guzma, and adding more basics will of course have an effect on the starting % of Talonflame. Speaking of which, the odds of starting Talonflame are:
1 Basic = 84.18%
2 Basics = 73.79%
3 Basics = 66.49%
4 Basics = 61.12%
I think 1 or 2 Basics is too few, and believe the optimal number will be either 3 or 4. 3 Basics gives us essentially optimal numbers for starting Talonflame twice in a Bo3 format like Regionals, but my real struggle is whether or not the 4th basic will prove worthwhile. Going from 3 -> 4 basics is only a 5% drop in starting odds, but if we assume 14 best of 3s, and then Top 8 we can really start to see how that 5% could have an impact. Right now I think the most flexible cards in the deck are the 3rd Fletching or the Spiritomb, along with the Field Blower.
Bastiodon UPR – I played Bastiodon in the list I cut the League Cup with, and it was very easily the most worthless card in the deck. The idea is that in addition to being a very unique wall that a lot of decks are not prepared to deal with, it can also hit Gardevoir-GX and Glaceon-GX for weakness. Unfortunately, I played against neither, and even against those decks the only way it can attack is with Super Boost or Counter Energy, making it even more unreliable.
Mew-EX – Mew-EX, on the other hand, is a card I’ve been testing with much better results than expected! In addition to being able to hit Buzzwole and Lucario-GX for Weakness using any of our Stage 2 attacks, or even Buzzwole/Lycanroc’s own attacks, it can act as a buffer so we’re not risking our Stage 2s early game while still using Aero Blitz to setup. The only downside is, if it hasn’t been able to hit the board by the time they’re at ~4 Prizes it’s probably not worth the risk of playing down unless you’re desperate.
The biggest way to be punished using Mew-EX is allowing the opponent to go from 2 -> 0 prizes, preventing the N to 1 and Counter Energy trigger at 2-1 Prizes. However, if you can drop it early, you can force your opponent up on Prizes to trigger Counter, and keep it triggered for longer, without risking a precious Stage 2.
Enhanced Hammer, Max Potion, Parallel City – While being pretty different cards I chose to lump them together because they all fit into the same category: a disruptive one-of that can be re-used with Puzzle of Time. Sometimes, you need just that little bit of something to slow them down enough to allow you to get to the board state you need to ensure victory. Having a re-usable out to slowing them down or extending the game in some fashion can really go a long way to accomplishing this goal, but for now I’ve chosen to dedicate my techs elsewhere and commit to consistency with the rest of the list.
Pokémon – 17
1 Lunala ♢
Trainers – 32
3 Po Town
Energy – 11
This is a relatively weird idea I’ve started toying with recently to counter Zoroark and Buzzwole decks. The deck is very much a spread deck focused on spreading with Tapu Koko Promo and stacking additional damage on specific targets with Alakazam-EX’s Kinesis, which allows you to place 20 damage on the active and 30 damage to a benched Pokémon of your choice when you Mega Evolve. Normally, going through the process of Mega Evolving is way more trouble than it’s worth, but with the new Magearna from Ultra Prism, we are able to move around the Alakazam Spirit Links in a way we have never been able to before! Between Magearna and Super Scoop Up, we have the potential to use multiple Kinesis Abilities per turn, allowing us to quickly pile on damage wherever it is needed.
Against Zoroark decks, we can spread damage around until we’re able to use Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine to KO a lot of targets at once, and against Buzzwole/Lucario decks, we can use our plethora of Psychic Types to continually hit for weakness. Lycanroc-GX can be a pain due to the different Weakness, but with some well-timed pings, we can handle it with Mega Alakazam’s Zen Force or devolve it with Espeon-EX. You’ll want to be mindful of opposing Psychic type Pokémon, like Mew-EX, that Zoroark decks will certainly be playing, as they can catch you off guard and cause a bit of a ruckus if you’re not prepared for them.
Your only GX attack is Tapu Cure-GX, so don’t be afraid to go in with your bigger EX/GX Pokémon and then fall back on a Tapu Cure to reset your board. When combined with Acerola, it can be quite difficult for your opponent to consistently keep damage on the board to take out the bigger threats. Hoopa-EX’s Hyperspace Fury can be quite powerful in the right situations as well, especially if it is loaded up in one turn via Lunala ♢’s amazing acceleration from Full Moon Star.
Acerola – This card seems incredibly useful for moving around M Alakazam’s with spirit links to trigger the Ability, especially if they take damage from our own Po Town. I just can’t seem to be able to find the space in the deck right now, but it’s definitely something I’m looking to fit.
Choice Band – This is one of the best Tools printed in a long time, so it’s no surprise to see it on the wants list, but Mega Pokémon always take up a lot of deck space with Spirit Links, so we’re stuck without much space leftover for better Tools like this. I think one could be worth the space with Magearna UPR allowing us to move it around as needed.
Field Blower – We’re definitely going to want this if Garbodor ends up being a deck we should worry about, but if it’s anything other than Buzz/Garb, then we’re probably going to lose anyway, as their opposing Trashalanche having weakness on M Alakazam is really bad for us.
Pokémon – 18
1 Lunala ♢
Trainers – 29
Energy – 13
I’ve expressed my fascination with Silvally-GX before and this is just the latest iteration of my experimenting with the card. I’ve changed the typing focus to Psychic in order to combat Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX as well as we can. Luckily, our three Psychic attackers are really good against both of those threats, and even Silvally-GX can become a Psychic type in a pinch. This makes Lycanroc-GX the most tricky Fighting Type Pokémon to deal with.
You are relatively well equipped for most Zoroark mirrors, though Zoroark/Lycanroc can be a bit tougher because of how good Lycanroc is against your Fighting-weak support. With all of these Lycanroc problems, I decided to include Hoopa SHL and a couple of Dark Energy. Your game plan is going to be to try and knock out as many of your opponent’s outs to Hoopa SLG as you can before they get down to 1 prize, where the Hoopa SLG is the only thing you have left in play to ideally wall out the rest of the game. It’s not perfect, but is a reasonable out to the main weakness of the deck.
Mimikyu, Mewtwo EVO, Mew-EX, Nihilego-GX – The Psychic type pool is fairly weak as far as attackers go, but we have a few options that can all get some work done should we decide that something else is needed. Mew-EX is cool because it can copy Riotous Beating for an easy KO, but is rather squishy and will often give up two prizes quickly itself. Mimikyu and Mewtwo are solid non-EX options who can each fill different roles. Nihilego-GX fills a different niche entirely by providing some disruption, a damage boost, and something that Lunala ♢ can dump a bunch of Energy onto so it can start swinging for the fences on a Psychic-weak Buzzwole-GX or Lucario-GX.
Altar of the Moone, Parallel City – These are two most viable stadiums for the deck, and both are pretty solid options worthy of consideration. Altar of the Moone gives us constant outs to mobility as long as we have a basic energy attached, and that is especially appreciated when up against Garbodor. Parallel City is honestly just the best stadium in the Standard format right now for a lot of different reasons, and the ability to re-use it with Puzzle of Time is absurdly powerful.
Max Elixir – This has seen success in most of the Silvally builds that have done well in the past, however I chose not to include it because the acceleration of Lunala ♢ has been powerful enough to pick up the slack where needed.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 30
Energy – 10
This has been a really cool deck I’ve been toying around with lately and have been loving. The best part about this deck is the incredible matchup it has against Zoroark-GX variants. You have two powerful attackers than can get an OHKO on Zoroark-GX for one energy, with different Weaknesses, which is incredible to say the least.
I feel that Garchomp BKP has been heavily overlooked recently with Garchomp UPR taking all the spotlight, and I think this is the exact opposite of how it should be! Garchomp BKP gives the deck the consistent energy acceleration it needs for Garchomp UPR and Lucario-GX to consistently use their multi-attachment attacks. Similar to Zoroark decks, once the combination of Garchomp and Lucario ULP’s Precognitive Aura hits the board, your setup can very quickly compound into an unbeatable situation.
Gible UPR, Gabite UPR – I chose the Fighting options of the line due to Strong Energy’s limitation to Fighting Pokémon only, but if the count is reduced to some extent, then I could see switching the preference.
Brooklet Hill, Devoured Field, Parallel City – These are all the viable stadiums for our concept here. Brooklet Hill is really cool because grabbing Basics at any point of the game is going to boost consistency a reasonable amount and help ensure we’re always getting more Pokémon into play. Devoured Field can help Garchomp UPR hit 210 without needing Choice Band, but that is all it does, and probably isn’t worth playing without more of a focus on Garchomp UPR. Parallel City is listed here for the same reason it was in the Silvally options: it is the best stadium in the game and the ability to re-use it with Puzzle of Time is incredibly powerful.
Field Blower – You will definitely need this card if you’re looking to beat Garbodor. Once Precognitive Aura is shut off, your ability to chain the right pieces together is hindered greatly, and if Garbodor is going to be in the metagame, then this is something you’ll want to avoid.
As far as getting crazy goes, these are all the options I’ve been giving a try with varying degrees of success. There are definitely some more proven concepts out there I would be on the lookout for if preparing for Portland Regionals this weekend. Two decks that I’m also very into right now are Peter Kica’s T16 Vikabulu deck and a Garbodor spread deck that Grant Manley found success with at an ARG event a few weeks back that has flown under the radar since then.
I’m really excited to compete in another Regional Championship this weekend, and while I’m sure this won’t be breaking attendance records, I always especially enjoy the PNW events as it’s one of my favorite areas in the country to visit. As always please feel free to come up and say hello if you see me at any event! I always really appreciate chatting with readers and find connecting with new friends one of the most enjoyable aspects of Pokémon! Good luck to everyone attending Portland Regionals this weekend (unless you’re playing me). Until next time!
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