Calm Before the (Celestial) Storm

A Brief NAIC Report and Lists Ft. Scizor, Yveltal, Rayquaza, and Xerneas

Hey everyone! Travis Nunlist back again with a piece about my absolute favorite thing to write about: a new set! This is an especially exciting block because it is the set that will have its debut at the World Championship! Last year we saw Burning Shadows have quite an impact with the brand new Gardevoir-GX taking down the whole event, and my first look at Celestial Storm has me believing this set could have a similar impact. There are so many different cards in this set that have some amount of potential and I can’t wait to try out all kinds of different ideas.

Last I wrote was about a week and half before the North American International Championship, and I’m happy to report I had a blast at my first IC! Seeing friends from around the world is always a great time, and getting to play in that caliber of an event is never a dull experience. I ended up taking a rogue Yveltal BREAK deck to an okay 5-1-3 finish. I didn’t do quite as well as I had hoped with our rogue deck, but was very happy to see some of my friends make it into Day 2 with the idea. Of our group that played it we had Clifton Goh finishing T64, Dustin Zimmerman finishing T16, and Aaron Tarbell representing the deck in T8. The list I played was only a couple of cards off of the list Jimmy posted in his article recently and I thought he did a fair analysis of it.

One of the more exciting matches of my day was a R9 G1 tie against Robin Schulz playing the Control deck that Tord ended up finishing 2nd with, defeating our Yveltal BREAK deck along the way. My game with Robin was very close, and I think I could have pulled off the win with a bit more time. The match up is incredibly slow and very weird as neither deck was really looking to face the other, but playing a long drawn out match against a top international player is what playing in an IC is all about!

Playing NAIC has made me even more energized to prepare for Worlds, and the ideas have really been buzzing around for me. Pre Releases were just this past weekend so we finally know exactly what to expect in the new set, so I’m going to be reviewing some of the first ideas I’ve had with Celestial Storm!

Searching for Celestial Storm’s Secrets

In writing this article I originally only planned to write about a couple of ideas, but thanks to a schedule shuffling I had a little too much time to contemplate and ended up with this wild stream of consciousness. Some of these concepts are much worse than others, but I think exploring some of the more gimmicky concepts out of the gate is good for your own creativity and is always going to be much more . It’s good practice to keep an open mind with a new set to try to find something that can fit into the meta, but it’s even more important not to get sucked down any rabbit holes with a concept.

Yveltal BREAK Gets an Update

Pokémon – 14

3 Yveltal GEN

1 Yveltal SLG

3 Yveltal BREAK

2 Tapu Koko SM31

1 Espeon-EX

1 Mewtwo EVO

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Oranguru UPR

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainers – 32

4 Guzma

4 N

4 Professor Sycamore

3 Cynthia

 

4 Max Elixir

4 Ultra Ball

3 Choice Band

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Super Rod

 

3 Shrine of Punishment

1 Parallel City

Energy – 14

10 Darkness

4 Double Colorless

This is quite a few cards off of what I played at NAIC, but I believe the new set and shifting meta will cause the optimal version of the deck to adapt. Shrine of Punishment is the newest card for the deck and man is this card powerful—it seems almost made for Yveltal BREAK! The spread of Shrine makes spread attackers like Tapu Koko and Latios even more effective when you can use them, but less needed when you can’t. Adding in Espeon-EX makes more sense with Zoroark’s performance at NAIC. Hoopa SLG was the solution before, but with the inclusion of Oranguru SUM and Acerola in Zoroark decks we can no longer rely on Hoopa to get us there.

Card Considerations

Hoopa SLG, Latios SLG, 2nd Mewtwo EVO – Hoopa is such a powerful card and the original intention with the inclusions was the it was okay against stuff and could autowin you certain Zoroark matchups. The UPR ’s inclusion in the Zoroark Control deck has caused the monkey to appear in other archetypes to attempt to counter it’s effectiveness and is incidentally very good against our Hoopa. The Latios and 2nd Mewtwo EVO were removed simply because of the perception that the meta could open back up with Celestial Storm.

Copycat, Nest Ball, Float StoneCopycat seems like a really interesting Supporter, but I’m not entirely convinced it can outclass any of the options we have right now. Nest Ball is great for consistency but has never been something I valued over other things we can add. Float Stone’s effectiveness drops when we have two Tapu Koko as it can always act as a pivot point when it is on the field, but I still enjoy having an Yveltal with free retreat so they may find their way back in.

Rayquaza’s Regards

Pokémon – 11

4 Rayquaza-GX

3 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Latias p

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Oranguru UPR

1 Tapu Koko-GX

 

Trainers – 34

4 Guzma

4 Professor Sycamore

1 Judge

1 N

 

4 Acro Bike

4 Max Elixir

4 Mysterious Treasure

3 Ultra Ball

3 Wishful Baton

2 Float Stone

2 Pal Pad

2 Super Rod

Energy – 14

7 Grass

7 Lightning

Rayquaza-GX is probably the most hyped Pokémon in the newest set due to the results of the Japanese National Championships. The winning list looked like this:

Japan’s format is a bit different than ours, as they played XY-on for this tournament, but it definitely gives some insight into what could happen at the World Championship. The only cards in the list that are not in our format are Hex Maniac, Shaymin-EX, and VS Seeker. While these cards are definitely important, I don’t think they’re enough to restrict the deck from making in impact in the upcoming format.

List Differences

Acro Bike + Pal Pad vs More Supporters – The lack of VS Seeker means we need another way to get through our deck, and the lack of Shaymin EX means we need to look for explosiveness elsewhere. My initial take on the concept included Acro Bike to ensure we can consistently dig through the deck T1 to get setup quickly and Pal Pad to help re-use the few supporters we actually want to play while helping to mitigate any odd discards should we choose to use Stormy Winds.

Fighting Fury Belt vs Wishful Baton is still quite popular in Japan because of Phantom Forces in their format. While the extra HP and small damage boost may prove to be consistently better overall, I’m really excited about the potential for Wishful Baton . Pulling it off just once saves a whopping 3 Energy to immediately power up another attacker AND + 90 damage for the next attack.

Parallel City vs Monkeys – Playing Parallel City without Field Blower or an alternate stadium is always a bit awkward because if you get hit by Parallel City first then there is no way you can move it. Being stuck with 3 bench spots and 2 useless cards in your deck can be quite annoying, but it is also one of the best stadium cards Pokémon has ever printed. Oranguru SUM is the best consistent board draw option for a deck like this and Oranguru UPR seems like a no brainer to safeguard against horrible discards by Stormy Winds.

Xerneas BREAK/Electrode-GX

Bulbapedia

Pokémon – 15

3 Xerneas XY

1 Xerneas CIN

4 Xerneas BREAK

2 Voltorb CES

2 Electrode-GX

1 Tapu Koko SM31

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Oranguru SUM

Trainers – 30

4 Guzma

4 N

4 Professor Sycamore

3 Cynthia

 

4 Choice Band

4 Ultra Ball

2 Nest Ball

2 Rescue Stretcher

 

3 Fairy Garden

Energy – 15

9 Fairy

4 Double Colorless

2 Rainbow

Xerneas BREAK is one of those decks that has had some okay showings here and there, but has never really had a big breakthrough leaving it constantly hanging around Tier 2 status. Electrode-GX may be exactly what the deck needs to catapult it into Tier 1 status. The biggest problem with the deck before was keeping energy in play. EXP Share is simply too easy to play around and easily removed by Field Blower, but Electrode-GX can provide a massive mid-game energy influx that cannot be stopped by much. The prizes given up aren’t nearly as bad as it seems as long as you can keep Xerneas in play. A strength of this deck has always been favorable exchanges, so playing off of that strength a bit to address the issue of keeping large amounts of energy has a lot of potential. Extra Energy Bomb has the potential of adding up to 200 damage if you consider Counter Energy.

Card Considerations

Tapu Lele UPR – For one energy the attack is the same as Mewtwo EVO’s with slightly different typing. These kinds of energy based attacks have always been decent, and while Psychic typing is great against , the Fairy typing is great against Rayquaza-GX. At worst it can help facilitate a two shot against most Pokémon with a Choice Band, so it is at least worth considering.

Parallel City, Shrine of Punishment – Both of these stadiums are incredibly powerful and make sense to include in a deck like this. Fairy Garden is a nice supporter to help with mobility and consistency for the deck, but cards like Parallel City and Shrine of Punishment provide such unique effects and options that they’re not especially comparable. A 2/2 split of two stadiums seems like a viable option, but trying to play all 3 sounds difficult and very space intensive.

Counter Energy + Relevant AttackersElectrode-GX is just screaming to be abused with all the come from behind mechanics currently available to us. Not only can Electrode accelerate Counter Energy, it can also help to activate it! I’m certain there are a million different things to do with these, but I haven’t had time to properly flesh this out yet. These concepts always need the meta to work itself out a bit more before they can really hone in on the weaknesses of the format.

Scizor-GX Tank

baras.tumblr.com

Pokémon – 16

4 Scyther CES

4 Scizor-GX

4 Jynx FFI

1 Registeel CIN

1 Registeel CES

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainers – 31

4 Guzma

4 N

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Cynthia

2 Pokémon Center Lady

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Metal Frying Pan

2 Float Stone

1 Rescue Stretcher

 

2 Parallel City

2 Reverse Valley

Energy – 13

9 Metal

4 Double Colorless

Our first version of Scizor Tank is focused on spamming Steel Wing and Victory Kiss with a Metal Frying Pan attached. When you consider all the different ways you can reduce damage the deck almost feels like Buzzwole except in reverse…almost. Zoroark and Buzzwole decks feel favorable due to the plethora of ways you have to nerf their output. The deck is capable of consistently poking for 80 damage while blocking up to 60 and healing up to 100(!) per turn! The most glaring weakness is that you’ll certainly get crushed by anything capable of taking a consistent 1HKO on a Scizor-GX, like the attackers in Malamar.

Card Considerations

Celesteela, Dusk Mane Necrozma, Kartana – These three single prize attacking options are all impressive cards, but ultimately I don’t think they really fit the ‘strategy’ of what we’re going for here. It seems like any card that’s not trying to keep a Scizor alive or keep them streamlined can be better used elsewhere.

Last Minute Potion, Life Herb, Potion, Super Potion – I’m currently sticking with Pokémon Center Lady and Jynx as my main forms of healing, but any amount of these counts can be substituted for theItem healing cards. As long as we have something to compliment Jynx so our opponent has more potential math adjustments they need to worry about then we’re getting the job done.

Scizor/Rampardos

Pokémon – 16

4 Scyther CES

4 Scizor-GX

1 Shieldon UPR

1 Cranidos UPR

2 Bastiodon UPR

2 Rampardos UPR

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainers – 34

4 Cynthia

4 N

4 Guzma

3 Professor Sycamore

 

4 Rare Candy

4 Ultra Ball

4 Unidentified Fossil

3 Fossil Excavation Map

2 Field Blower

 

2 Parallel City

Energy – 10

7 Metal

3 Fighting

This is definitely the most wild concept I’ve put forward so far today, but I do think the idea is solid! I’m a bit nervous to push it too hard because the last time Six Prizes interacted with our Fossil friends it caused quite the uproar. Bastiodon has quite a powerful ability that gives all Metal Type Pokémon immunity from anything with Special Energy attached, which just so happens to be a rather large chunk of the format! We’ve also got the Rampardos involved as well because it just seemed odd not to try fitting them both into the same deck if it proves easy. Just like the last variant, our biggest problem here is going to be things that can one shot us with ease like the attackers in Malamar decks.I’m not entirely sure how we can account for that matchup short of restructuring the list to include Garbodor BKP. It might be a solvable problem down the line, but it definitely remains murky as long as Malamar is able to hold onto its share of the meta.

Card Considerations

Registeel CRI, Registeel CES – Registeel CRI probably deserves a spot in the list to help with energy attachments and damage pings as needed, but the new Registeel probably isn’t worth it in a deck without DCE.

Rainbow Energy, Counter Energy – Getting these cards into play takes a little bit of extra work via taking damage or needing to be behind on prizes, neither of which are places where you want to be. However, these cards offer versatility in the sense that they give a net increase in types of energy floating around for everyone which is always nice to see.

Conclusion

Looking forward to Worlds 2018, I would not be surprised to see any of these decks or variations of them find success. This set has so many playable cards in it that its rather difficult to imagine it not having a major impact. The biggest issue on everyone’s minds right now is: Are any of these cards better than what we currently have? If I go off of what I have heard or read from some of my fellow players the answer might be no, but I’m determined to find the meta solution for the Celestial Storm format.

While all the cards listed above are by no means an extensive list of the deck building options this set has to offer, it is an extensive list of the options I’ve currently gone through. I’m super excited to begin testing things like Banette-GX, Altaria-GX, , and even Metagross! The options we have now are wild and expansive, so hopefully we can come up with a couple of incredibly options for Nashville.

We’re getting closer and closer to Worlds and the closer it gets the more excited I am about competing. I cannot wait for the set to drop on PTCGO and will definitely be trying to build everything under the sun as soon as I can. The dull period between set releases on PTCGO always makes me really anxious to get started but also tends to keep me from wanting to play the old format on PTCGO because it feels odd to test a format that is effectively ‘over’. However, the recently announced Expanded bans have given me the justification I needed to play hours of Expanded on PTCGO without regret or worry about time wasted. Hopefully you all enjoyed by first round of Celestial musings, until next time!


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