Hello again 6P! I’m at the airport in Utah, waiting for midnight to hit for my overnight flight to Mexico City. I’ve had all day to ponder and discuss with other players the effects of Beast Ring and the outlook on the new meta for Standard. Due to the constant stream of events that are upcoming, and the big focus I put on Brazil (which secured my Top 4 of LATAM, but Top 128 was definitely not the desired result), I haven’t had as much time with the new set as I’d like. However, not enough time doesn’t mean any time, and I want to talk about a few things here today, regarding the new sets expectations moving forward in both Expanded and Standard.
However, let me start off with a quick recap and some thoughts from the weekend while the details are still fresh. First off, Expanded as a whole feels broken. Black and White era cards such as Exeggcute and Exeggutor just don’t quite feel right when interacting with Sun and Moon cards. I made the (wrong) decision to play Trevenant this weekend, thinking I’d have an easy time beating Zoroark decks by spreading 30 damage twice and then devolving to clear a board. Much easier said than done, especially when opponents are hitting 2-3 Zoroarks on turn 2 very, very consistently.
Here is a quick summary of my weekend with Trevenant:
Round 1 – Glaceon-GX/Shaymin-EX ROS/Marshadow SLG WLW
Round 2 – Glaceon-GX LWL
Round 3 – Trevenant BREAK ID
Round 4 – Zoroark-GX WLL
Round 5 – Zoroark-GX WW
Round 6 – Drampa-GX/Garbodor LWW
Round 7 – Zoroark-GX LL
Round 8 – Zoroark-GX LL
Round 9 – Dropped (3-4-1)
Going a total of 3-6 vs the best/most popular deck in the format not only reflects upon the limited time I have when trying to test for 2 different formats, and prioritizing each of them, but also on the recent mindset that I want (and thought I had already) to get rid of, which is this trying to counter the meta way of thinking.
Admittedly, the whole big events adventure that I started with São Paulo features a 9/1 split between Standard and Expanded, so it makes sense that I made a suboptimal choice, I guess. I also purposely chose not to play Zoroark, as I think the Zoroark mirror match is just not very skill based, as it usually comes down to one player effectively locking the other out of the match with Red Card and a continuous string of Hex Maniac. I am genuinely happy that I am done with Expanded until next season, and will actually be reconsidering attending any Expanded Regional whatsoever, at least until significant bans have taken place, or unless the new set proves to be a huge game changer.
The Future of Expanded
This weekend showed that Zoroark has become predictable to an extent, and decks are adapting more successfully. We saw a huge surge of Fighting type decks, an important Drampa-GX/Garbodor presence, along with a Korrina based Gardevoir-GX deck, and even Sableye/Garbodor have a strong showing (with the latter taking the big win in the end). With only a single Zoroark deck in the Top 8, maybe the format will prove to be more varied than it felt to me personally this weekend. I’m not sure I can say I’d be happy with a more varied format that includes decks like Sableye/Garbodor though, which try to effectively lock your opponent out of the game.
The huge game changer for Expanded could genuinely be Beast Ring from Forbidden Light, which I believe is poised to shake up quite a bit in both formats. There will surely be a big emphasis on Fighting types with Buzzwole-GX being the big star of it all, but Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX and Ultra Necrozma-GX are also brimming with potential.
Based on Japanese tournament results, we might be looking at Ultra Necrozma-GX with Malamar and Korrina/Fighting as huge contenders in the upcoming Expanded metagame, and most likely in Standard as well. There are big differences for both formats, namely Korrina to specifically search for Beast Ring, and Battle Compressor as a reliable way to get Psychics in the discard. I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised to see either of these decks give Zoroark-GX and the rest of this weekend’s decks a lot to think about to adapt in the upcoming tournaments.
We will have the first peak at Forbidden Lights impact in Expanded at Roanoke, but I’m genuinely relieved that I will get a break from Expanded until next seasons Regionals, so September at best?
The Beast Within: Buzzwole
Moving on to Standard, as I’ve mentioned before, my time with the new set has been limited and mostly been theorymon plus the games I managed to squeak in this weekend between prepping for Regionals. Thankfully, despite Toronto happening this weekend, I can now fully focus on the new set from this point onward, as I’m just going to go Buzzwole/Lycanroc for Toronto and call it a day. It’s presumably still the best deck in the format, the list has been optimized, and it has counters (Mew and/or Oricorio) to the counters (Mew-EX and Mewtwo). I’m 99% sure the following list is what I’ll be playing for Toronto this upcoming weekend:
Pokémon – 16
1 Mew FCO
Trainers – 30
Energy – 14
This is just two cards off of Azul’s second place list from the LAIC, but I do feel like it’s the most optimal and consistent list out there. I really like having 4 Strong Energy rather than 3, as I love having the option to Jet Punch for a KO on a Zoroark-GX that has been set up with a previous 30, and from the games I’ve played, I’ve definitely felt that 3 hasn’t been doing it for me. I might just run Azul’s same 60 on the day, but I also do like having the Oricorio as a more reliable Espeon/Garbodor counter, since Mew can simply be shut off with Garbotoxin for the whole game. It’s interesting to see how this archetype has evolved since its introduction at the EUIC and follow up in Memphis, and how it has evolved and adapted to the meta in order to remain on top.
With Forbidden Light
Now a lot of us are wondering how this archetype will continue to evolve, and if it even has any actual counters with the new release of Beast Ring and Diancie Prism. One of the current debates is how many Beast Ring the deck needs to run, and if Max Elixir is still needed in the deck.
Here’s the list that I currently have built on PTCGO that I plan on testing more for the Mexico City Special Event on the 19th of May:
Pokémon – 17
1 Mew FCO
Trainers – 30
Energy – 13
As you can see, I’m currently favoring a 4/0 split of Beast Ring and Max Elixir, for several reasons. The main one is simply maximizing odds. Beast Ring is guaranteed Energy into play (whereas Max Elixir will almost always have a chance to whiff), and unless your opponent is playing Guzzlord-GX and manages to use its GX attack successfully, or you somehow let an opposing Buzzwole-GX pick up 4 Prizes at once, it’s pretty much impossible to play around the 3-4 Prize situation. Using 4 Beast Ring not only maximizes your chances of finding the Beast Ring in that 3-4 Prize timing, allowing you to immediately retaliate or pick up a KO with a powered up Buzzwole-GX, but also increases your chances of playing more than 1 to have other Buzzwole-GX’s powered up, ready to finish up the game.
The next reason why I favor the 4/0 split is simply deck space. With the 1-to-1 replacement, I can definitely reduce the basic Energy count to accommodate Beast Energy, go back to 4 Strong Energy, and also simply decrease the basic energy count a little bit. Now you just need them to exist within the deck, and not have as many as possible to have one reside in the top 6 cards.
Last but not least, the other new tools for the deck: non-GX Buzzwole and Diancie p, actually take off a lot of pressure from energy attachments and getting more energy in play all at once. Buzzwole is such an incredible attacker that I genuinely feel like decks will always want to play around the 4 Prize threshold to the best of their ability. With all the damage modifiers included in the deck, Buzzwole can hit all the way up to 210 damage for just a single energy.
All of a sudden, the deck can a) easily power up one or multiple Buzzwole-GX to Knuckle Impact very easily, b) become super efficient if at 4 Prizes thanks to Buzzwole and the numbers it hits with Choice Band, Strong/Beast Energy, Diancie p and Regirock-EX, c) can easily 2HKO any GX thanks to the same damage modifiers applying to Jet Punch, and d) still has access to the best GX attack in the game with Dangerous Rogue.
The main way to counter Buzzwole decks pre-Forbidden Light was to target down whatever had energy, hence a great strategy was powering up multiple attackers and leaving each of those 1 energy away from being able to attack. By doing so, no matter which Pokémon your opponent targeted, you were always 1 energy away from retaliating. Now though, you can retaliate out of the blue with the (and I can’t emphasize this enough) guaranteed Beast Ring energy attachments. Hopefully these arguments make as much sense to you as they do to me.
Other new inclusions to the deck are the 4th Buzzwole-GX making a triumphant return to the deck, the 2 new Rockruff with 70 HP, allowing them to survive 2 Jet Punches on the bench, and the switch from 4 Professor Sycamore and 2 Cynthia to reversed counts of each. This last change was made after the few games I played with the old splits and realizing how valuable it is to keep your Beast Rings alive. Discarding even 1 Beast Ring early on means less of a chance to have the card when the timing is right, hence you want to be a bit more conservative with your resources. Beast Ring is that good, and there might even be merit to switching to a 4 Cynthia, 3 N 1 Professor Sycamore (or even Lillie) engine, to make sure those Beast Rings are (almost) always available to you.
In the livestream where I featured this deck, as well as on social media, I’ve seen the Max Elixir argument being:
“Well how are you going to accelerate energy when Beast Ring isn’t activated?”
There’s only 2 instances in the game where this happens: early game when your opponent is at 6 or 5 Prizes, and late game, when they’re at 2 or 1 Prize cards left.
At the 6-5 Prizes range, odds are you’re not getting pressured too much yet, and thus the high damage output of Jet Punch with Diancie p, Strong Energy, Choice Band, etc, should be enough to put an immense amount of pressure on your opponent. Getting ahead with Max Elixir would serve little purpose here due to the lack of pressure.
For the late game, in 2-1 Prizes range, you should’ve already attempted to use Beast Ring before that. Thus, in my mind, running 4 makes the most sense to make sure you have maximum chances of finding at least one.
The Challenger Rising: Ultra Necrozma
Now moving onto Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar decks. In theory, the numbers this deck can hit are incredibly good, and I offered a lot of praise for it in my last article. The reality however, is that the deck has felt so far a little bit clunkier than I originally thought it would be, despite the extra boost of Pokémon search through Mysterious Treasure. The deck requires a lot to get going, between a Float Stone’d Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX, 2-3 benched Malamar, and an Ultra Necrozma-GX. It leaves little room for Tapu Lele-GX, Mew FCO or even Lunala p to help support the deck at the right time.
More importantly though, the deck lacks a way to get Psychic Energy into the discard pile reliably. The Expanded version of this deck will feature 2-3 Battle Compressor. However, we do not have that luxury in Standard and sadly, 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Mystery Treasure and 2-3 Professor Sycamore have not felt enough and many games have offered a great set up, but the lack of Energy in the discard early on has hurt quite a bit.
I’ve adapted the list a bit, and it now includes 2 Beast Ring for when your deck is just setting up slow enough to where you need to use those to start putting on pressure. This what the list currently looks like:
Pokémon – 15
1 Lunala p
1 Mew FCO
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
1 Beast p
With 4 Professor Sycamore, and 4-of each Ultra Ball and Mystery Treasure, we’ve maximized the ways in which we can get those Psychics in the discard pile. This is, of course, risky as we might end up losing valuable cards like Malamar or Beast Rings themselves in the process, but I can’t come up with a more reliable way to do so. Beast Ring has the extra use of letting you potentially power up 2 different attackers at once, so that in the same style as Buzzwole, you can create a checkmate situation where no matter which Pokémon gets targeted, the other cleans up. Like I said, setting up the Pokémon isn’t a big issue, but getting the energy timing right has been my biggest problem when toying around with this deck.
And that will wrap up my article for today! I’m very much looking forward to Toronto this weekend, but I also can’t wait to play with the new cards right afterward. Let’s hope I can say goodbye to the pre-Forbidden Light format with a bang this upcoming weekend to make up for the lackluster showing at Salt Lake City.
As always feel free to reach out here or at any of my social media links with questions. Until next time!
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