Footprints Ashore, Turtles & More

Powerhouse Plays—Nightmarch/Lucario-GX and Archie’s Blastoise—for Daytona
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Peter Joltik: Keeping Expanded safe since 2015.

Hello everyone, I’m glad to finally make my debut writing and I couldn’t be happier writing for SixPrizes. For those who don’t know me, my name is Peter Kica and I’ve been playing the Pokémon TCG for roughly five years now. My “rise to fame” can be best associated with my love for Nightmarch and wacky takes on decks such as Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt.

With Daytona Regionals coming up in a few weeks, we have a lot of data to analyze from the past two Expanded Regionals in order to properly prepare for Daytona. I’m going to be covering my Nightmarch/Lucario-GX deck from Greensboro and my two favorite picks heading into Daytona.

Greensboro Nightmarch

Pokémon (21)

4 Joltik PHF

4 Pumpkaboo PHF

4 Lampent PHF

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Riolu UPR

1 Lucario-GX

1 Marshadow-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Marshadow SLG

Trainer (33)

3 Professor Juniper

1 Guzma

1 N

1 Teammates

 

4 Battle Compressor

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

1 Escape Rope

1 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Special Charge

2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Dimension Valley

1 Silent Lab

Energy (6)

4 Double Colorless

1 Fighting

1 Strong

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 21

* 4 Joltik PHF 26
* 4 Pumpkaboo PHF 44
* 4 Lampent PHF 42
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
* 2 Riolu UPR 66
* 1 Lucario-GX PR-SM 100
* 1 Marshadow-GX BUS 80
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 4 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 2 Dimension Valley PHF 93
* 3 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 1 Silent Lab PRC 140
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 1 Teammates PRC 141
* 1 Special Charge STS 105
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 N FCO 105
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 114

##Energy - 6

* 1 Strong Energy FCO 115
* 1 Fighting Energy Energy 6
* 4 Double Colorless Energy XYEnergy 130

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73042 ******

This was the Nightmarch/Lucario-GX list I played in Greensboro. This take on the deck began a few weeks prior to Toronto Regionals where we saw Jimmy Pendarvis take down the event with a similar list. Since Greensboro was being held only one week after Toronto, I knew going into Greensboro that there was going to be an influx of Nightmarch counters, such as Oricorio GRI 56 and Karen, included in a lot of decks. We even saw Azul’s 2nd place list run Articuno ROS 17 as a soft answer to Nightmarch. Although I knew this, I still went with my Old Faithful as I thought it had a strong enough shot at winning the event.

Needless to say, I did not win the event, but I did have a decent showing. I started off 0-2 due to poor variance, but I managed to make Day 2 with a 6-2-1 record. During Day 1 I played against a wide assortment of decks, most of which included Oricorio to deal with my low-HP attackers. However, I don’t believe Oricorio to be an effective enough tech card to handle Nightmarch all by itself. There are ways to maneuver around Supernatural Dance so that you don’t lose outright. This requires a lot of forethought—careful management of resources, knowledge of your opponent’s potential deck composition, etc.—which I will go into later.

After making Day 2, TOM paired me against not only the only Trevenant BREAK in Day 2, but a Trevenant that included both Karen and Oricorio. (Yikes.)

After facing this super-counter Trevenant, I was pretty disheartened as I had generally favorable matchups ahead. That round, followed with some poor draws, led me to a Top 64 finish.

Card Choices

2-1 Lucario-GX
Going into Expanded with the release of Team Up, I knew that Pikachu & Zekrom-GX was a force to be reckoned with. Paired with its poor showing in Toronto, I knew it was poised for a huge amount of play and/or success in Greensboro. The rationale behind playing 2-1 Lucario-GX was very simple—it counters —but it has utility outside of being an Electric counter. The popularity of and non-GX decks made this inclusion a no-brainer to me.

While having 2 Riolus on the Bench, you pose a knockout to a tremendous amount of decks in the format, Zoroark and PikaRom being the two most popular. Lucario-GX is also very good in combination with Teammates which lets you grab both necessary pieces to Aura Strike that turn. Additionally, it is a powerful comeback Pokémon in single-Prize matchups, such as Buzzwole/, and against decks that like to include Oricorio, such as Drampa/Garbodor. Being able to Knock Out a single-Prize attacker for a single Energy and resist the revenge–KO potential Oricorio poses is very valuable.

1 Fighting Energy
The copy of basic Fighting Energy is an out to stuff like Chaos Wheel and Xurkitree-GX or Aegislash-EX. It can also be attached to non-Fighting-type Pokémon, which can be useful for attacking with Tapu Lele-GX under Dimension Valley.

1 Strong Energy
Special Charge allows you to reuse Strong Energy—that makes it flexible and worth playing. I did get a few Aura Strike 1HKOs with Strong Energy + Choice Band for 170 on Tapu Leles and some very powerful Jabs by Riolu on Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, but besides that, the ability to be reused by Special Charge usurps all niche scenarios.

1 Silent Lab, 1 Marshadow SLG
The Let Loose + Silent Lab combo proved to be an essential disruptor versus many decks in the format. The ability to drop an opponent’s hand size to 4 while locking Abilities on Turn 1 is extremely powerful.

I won every single game where I used Let Loose on Turn 1 and played down a Silent Lab. The lack of outs to draw under these circumstances led my opponents to be pressured so hard that a comeback was virtually impossible for them.

I would always play this two-card combo in Nightmarch and consider it in most decks that don’t play a Zoroark-GX/Sky Field engine.

My Daytona Top Two

1. Archie’s Blastoise

This archetype received an extreme amount of hype going into Greensboro. With a lot of top players choosing to run the deck, it was undoubtedly positioned to have great success and it almost won the event with Azul Garcia Griego and Andy Gray getting 2nd and 3rd place, respectively. The deck has an obnoxiously high power level because it cheats Deluge into play and has instant access to overpowered attacks like Towering Splash GX.

Going into Daytona, I think this archetype still holds its high place in the meta. With the winner of Greensboro being Drampa/Garbodor, I expect Ability-reliant decks to increase their counts of Field Blower and/or Faba to deal with the influx of Garbotoxin, which will push those decks out of the meta and leave room for Archie’s Blastoise to prevail.

This is the list I’d pilot if I were to choose Archie’s Blastoise for Daytona:

Changes from Azul’s 2nd Place List

-1 Articuno ROS 17
+1 Magikarp & Wailord-GX

-1 Order Pad
+1 Acerola

I feel like the list Azul piloted to a 2nd place finish was very close to optimal. In my testing, I have found that Articuno is not very efficient at dealing with low-HP single-Prize attackers (as intended) because of the lack of sufficient damage-boosting cards like Muscle Band. I think Muscle Band is crucial to providing that guaranteed extra 20 damage which counteracts the luck required in using Articuno’s Tri Edge attack.

In Articuno’s place, I have found that having a second copy of Magikarp & Wailord-GX is both extremely good for (1) having in matchups where it’s required, like Zoroark-GX/Garbodor, and (2) starting it, which almost certainly stops an opposing player from taking a knockout on their first couple of turns without the use of a Gust effect, like Guzma.

In addition to the second copy of Magikarp & Wailord-GX, I have elected to include a single copy of Acerola in favor of a 4th copy of Order Pad. While Order Pad is extremely for obtaining your T1 Archie’s Ace in the Hole, I believe having the versatility in healing your 300-HP Magikarp & Wailord-GX to be a valid enough reason to slightly reduce your odds at a T1 Archie’s.

The inclusions of the 2nd Magikarp & Wailord-GX and 1 Acerola heavily impact your matchups against Zoroark-GX-focused decks, which I expect to make a major leap in the meta come Daytona. The ability to use Tower Splash GX to wipe a board of Zoruas before they can evolve becomes even easier.

On top of the added consistency to your deck’s main attacker, you also introduce a new element to your deck. The ability to heal your attackers and replenish your hand with the Energies and/or Tools because of Acerola has proved to be strong in my personal testing.


Overall, I think these two changes to the deck make it extremely formidable going forward, and I’d certainly expect to face it (and thus need beat it) on the way to winning Daytona.

2. Nightmarch/Lucario-GX

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Nightmarch/Lucario-GX is my personal favorite deck in the entire Expanded format. Needless to say, I have a strong affinity toward the Tiny Spider, but the inclusion of Lucario-GX does make this deck a powerhouse. I have made slight adjustments to my Greensboro list to account for expected meta shifts and consistency issues I experienced at times. Here’s the new list:

Pokémon (21)

4 Joltik PHF

4 Pumpkaboo PHF

4 Lampent PHF

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Riolu UPR

1 Lucario-GX

1 Marshadow-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Oranguru SUM

1 Marshadow SLG

Trainer (33)

3 Professor Juniper

1 Guzma

1 N

1 Teammates

 

4 Battle Compressor

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

1 Field Blower

1 Level Ball

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Special Charge

2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Dimension Valley

1 Silent Lab

Energy (6)

4 Double Colorless

2 Fighting

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 21

* 4 Joltik PHF 26
* 4 Pumpkaboo PHF 44
* 4 Lampent PHF 42
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
* 2 Riolu UPR 66
* 1 Lucario-GX PR-SM 100
* 1 Marshadow-GX BUS 80
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Oranguru SUM 113
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 4 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 2 Dimension Valley PHF 93
* 3 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 1 Silent Lab PRC 140
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 1 Teammates PRC 141
* 1 Special Charge STS 105
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 N FCO 105
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 1 Level Ball AOR 76

##Energy - 6

* 2 Fighting Energy Energy 6
* 4 Double Colorless Energy XYEnergy 130

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73042 ******

As you can see, not much has changed except for the inclusion of a Level Ball. From my experience playing the deck in Greensboro and personal testing, I’ve found that the deck sometimes lacks the ability to easily get Riolus into play. With the added benefit of being able to grab Marshadow to Let Loose, and any of the Nightmarchers, I saw no reason not to include this card in my list.

Before testing the single Level Ball, I was skeptical, as a single card usually does not affect consistency in a significant way. But: I’m glad to say my skepticism was met with great results. I found that the single copy of Level Ball was not only instrumental in setting up Lucario-GX more consistently, but it was also good for refreshing my hand and disrupting opponents with Marshadow.

The fact that over half of the Pokémon in this deck have less than 90 HP means that Level Ball is almost never a dead card and—in most cases—can be used to get yourself out of dead hands.

The “Tough” Matchups

Since my experience with Nightmarch reaches back a few years now, I’m very comfortable discussing its matchups in great detail. I believe I know this deck like the back of my hand.

Since my experience at Greensboro was filled with opponents playing Oricorio GRI 56 and/or Karen, I’ll assume that if an archetype can play either of those cards, it will play them. These are some of the trickier matchups to maneuver as Nightmarch, so I’ll go over them in detail.

Zoroark-GX/Garbodor
This matchup, on paper, seems to be in Zoroark’s favor if they run a single copy of Oricorio. Their ability to constantly draw cards, thin their deck, and reuse Oricorio with Rescue Stretcher and Super Rod makes this matchup extremely difficult for Nightmarch in the eyes of many.

For me, however, although this matchup is tricky and difficult to maneuver, I think of it as a good matchup and one I’d love to play against at any tournament. The big keys here are:

  1. Bench management,
  2. deck composition, and
  3. foresight.

When playing against decks with Oricorio, it is important to always consider what you bench. It is extremely important that you never allow your opponent to take multiple Prizes with a single Supernatural Dance.

The most common ways I play around this are by (1) preemptively using Rescue Stretcher to rid my discard pile of Pokémon and (2) only benching one Nightmarcher at a time.

Knowing the composition of any opponent’s deck is obviously helpful, so taking adequate mental notes during Game 1 can be a key factor in winning Game 2 (and Game 3, if necessary).

Leading with Marshadow-GX against Zoroark has key benefits, which is where having foresight comes into play. Leading Marshadow-GX forces one of two things to happen:

  1. Either your opponent extends their Bench and gets a knockout on your Marshadow-GX with a Zoroark-GX or
  2. they miss the knockout which gets you another turn of attacking.

The great benefit here is that in order to Knock Out your Marshadow, your opponent almost definitely has to attack with a Zoroark-GX, which conveniently gives up two Prize cards. This gives you enough time to fetch Nightmarchers and return–KO with a Lucario-GX, which, again, leads to the only possible return–KO to be with a Zoroark-GX.

As you can probably tell, having this foresight as to how you can dictate pace can lead from having an opponent spamming Oricorio and spreading tons of damage to instead forcing them into attacking with their draw-engine, two-Prize attacker.

Hitmonchan/Wobbuffet
This matchup, on paper, seems extremely difficult for Nightmarch. Hit/Wobb usually starts the game with Ability lock and maintains it. Combine that with the ability to one-shot your Nightmarchers and switch to the Bench, safe from harm, it seems excessively frustrating to deal with.

While all of that is true, it is nowhere near impossible to win. There are a few things you can do to exploit your opponent’s deck:

  1. The first thing is to try to lead with Pumpkaboo if possible. It’s the hardest single-Prizer for Hitmonchan to deal with because of Resistance. If you can get ahead in the Prize race early, you can continuously trade single-Prizers and eventually win the game.
  2. Another thing you can do is constantly try to disrupt your opponent. Hit/Wobb plays a particularly low count of draw cards and usually needs multiple pieces which they fetch with Korrina and Teammates. Basically, if you can force your opponent to constantly need more than two pieces to return–KO, they’ll have a hard time keeping up in the Prize race.
  3. Gusting up their attackers and trading two-Prizers from your deck for two single-Prizers is a great way to even up the Prize race if you fall behind early.

The main things you have to watch out for are ways your opponent can take multiple Prizes in a single turn, which include uses of Oricorio and sniping down your Shaymin-EXs. Keeping two-Prizers in play to a minimum and optimizing your Bench can turn this matchup from unfavorable to favorable in a hurry, and inexperienced opponents relying on Oricorio will find that the matchup isn’t as great as they once thought.

Conclusion

There are two remaining Expanded Regionals left in this format, with Daytona being the next one. I think Archie’s Blastoise and Nightmarch/Lucario-GX are two of the most powerful and aggressive decks you can bring to a tournament, which are very desired attributes in order to avoid ties (so that you have a chance to actually win the event).

Thanks to all for reading. I found writing an article to be very rewarding for myself. I hope to be back and providing quality and thoughtful articles for you guys. Feel free to message me on Twitter @PeterJoltik with any questions and/or feedback, I’d greatly appreciate it.


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