Hello again readers, I’m back with you to talk about my LAIC experience and an updated list from LAIC that I think is very good going forward. The UPR–CEC format was completely new to all of us, and this definitely showed in both the meta and some of the lists that did well. I played a nice little rogue deck, Turbo Flareon-GX, AKA Dumpster Fire, to a Top 64 finish in the event.
For me at least, there really wasn’t any great surprise deck that came out of nowhere and took the event by storm. I was at least somewhat aware of the GuzzNag/Mismagius deck that some of the Americans brought, so that doesn’t count for me. The format pretty much played out how I expected it to. TAG TEAM Supporters were actually a trap, and they slowed everything in the format down for a minuscule consistency boost, or maybe some healing. This led to turbo-style decks being very strong and ultimately winning the event.
My LAIC Play: Turbo Fire Stuff
Note: The list I played in São Paulo is already on Limitless, so I won’t put it here.
I was pretty much lost on what to play until Michael Catron told me about Flareon-GX being good in Fire. I, living up to my habit of not testing my final list for Brazil, built the deck and went to sleep after playing zero games with it. Usually, this is a bad idea, but it has worked out well for me a few times now.
I sat down for Round 1, having zero clue if my deck actually functioned and somewhat nervous about it because Catron bailed on the deck at 3 AM. Lo and behold, my opponent flips over a GardEon, and I get a relatively good matchup to learn how to play my deck. Eight straight game wins later, during which I managed to 2-0 a QuagNag/Keldeo, I’m 4-0 and hit my first American opponent, Rahul Reddy.
Rahul was playing a Mewtwo list that cut the 4 Custom Catchers and added 3 Great Catchers along with another card. Game 1, I win the coin flip, and the game goes in my favor. Game 2, Rahul gets the turn 2 Flare Blitz-GX with a Great Catcher on my Benched ReshiZard. For a normal Fire deck, they would scoop up their cards. For me, it’s a little bit different. My deck’s whole purpose is to be able to discard 14 Energy by turn 2 to 1HKO a Mewtwo & Mew-GX with Flareon-GX. Around 20 cards later, I Dedechange my 13th Energy, needing to hit a Fiery Flint and an Energy to essentially win the game, but I miss the Flint and lose my first game of the day. Game 3 goes similarly because I missed Welder on turn 1, but this time, I’m able to get 280 to 1HKO Rahul’s ReshiZard with 6 Fire Energy on it, which pretty much ended the game.
So, I’m 5-0 in Brazil again. The rest of Day 1 goes a lot less good than it could have. I lost to a Mewtwo player because Victini p was Prized for 3 consecutive games, which were the only games I actually Prized it in Day 1. Oh well. 5-1. I then play a match against Green’s ADP, where my opponent and I play a tennis match of throwing Game 3 to each other at least 2 times each. Ultimately, my opponent forgot that Flareon-GX was a thing and used his last Custom Catchers, and I benched an Eevee and attached my last Energy to win the game the following turn. 6-1. Yay. I, again following LAIC tradition for me, ID Round 8 against who would later be my Round 13 opponent. Unlike last year, this ID was blatantly incorrect once I learned he was another Green’s ADP. But I’m locked in Day 2, so that was fine, right? Round 9 rolls around, and I hit a GardEon who manages to 2-0 me. I suppose that that’s what I get for stealing the games against QuagNag earlier in the day. It was then that I learned GardEon is no longer a great matchup if you’re not playing 3 consecutive Welder.
Day 2 started the following day (yes, that’s generally how it works), and I hit another GardEon. This time I win handily, and I’m off to a good start. And then my deck decided it was done for the day. I hit Matthew Burris’s Mewtwo in Round 11, saw a disturbingly low number of Welder, and lost. And then I played against PikaRom, and once again, my deck just kinda…stopped? Flopped? Became a literal dumpster fire? Another loss there and I’m no longer having a great day. I need to go 1-0-1 to lock even Top 64. Round 13 rolls around, and my poor Round 8/13 opponent fell victim to a turn 2 Infinity for 280 damage on his lone ADP. My deck came back to me for one last time and I 2-0ed him moving up to 25 match points.
I go into Round 14 expecting to sit down and ID into Top 64. TOM decided that, no, I was not going to be allowed to stop playing the event, and paired me up to a N’s Resolve ADP deck. I somehow won Game 1, and then whiffed both of my Great Catcher off of a lot of cards to lose Game 2. Game 3, my deck died again, and I finished the event at 25 match points. Fortunately for me, all of my opponents had rather good days, and my resistance was the highest of the 25s, and I managed to get 63rd in the event. Lucky me.
The Updated List
1 Ditto p
1 Pal Pad
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 18
* 4 Jirachi PR-SM 161
* 3 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Eevee CEC 166
* 1 Flareon-GX PR-SM 171
* 1 Vulpix TEU 15
* 1 Ninetales TEU 16
* 1 Blitzle LOT 81
* 1 Zebstrika LOT 82
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 194
* 1 Heatran-GX UNM 25
* 1 Victini p DRM 7
* 1 Turtonator DRM 50
##Trainer Cards - 24
* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 3 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 3 Fiery Flint DRM 60
* 1 Escape Board UPR 167
* 1 Pal Pad UPR 132
* 4 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 2 Giant Hearth UNM 197
* 4 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
##Energy - 18
* 18 Fire Energy Energy 2
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=78324 ******
Changes from LAIC
Daytona Regionals is just around the corner, and with my Regionals finishes this season being mediocre at best, it’s time for me to get a real finish. I’m still favoring the deck that I played at LAIC, but I’ve made the list better in an effort to beat both Ability Zard and maybe Doll Stall. My original list basically assumed that I would be one of the only Fire decks, and consequently it didn’t play Ninetales. Now that there are other Fire decks out there, and Doll Stall is actually a thing, Ninetales needed to get into the list.
I’ve not had the opportunity to explain a lot of the card counts in the deck, so this section will be a bit more in-depth than usual. Some of the card counts might not make sense, but the list is incredibly tight, so some things have to be weird.
- Flareon-GX is by far the most important in most matchups, which is why there were 2 in the original list, but when push comes to shove, the deck can function with only 1 copy.
- Zebstrika LOT is mainly here for the Pidgey matchup, but after playing 14 rounds with Zebstrika, it has proven itself to be incredibly good. Even if you don’t expect Pidgey, keep it in the deck as a counter to Reset Stamp and another method of discarding Fire Energies.
- Ninetales TEU is here for its gust effect, but it is probably the least important Stage 1. Unfortunately, matchups like ADP, Ability Zard, and Doll Stall all require a consistent gust, and Ninetales fulfills that need. As an added bonus, it can be used as another method of Energy discard.
“Why not 4?” you may ask. Well, this is one of those weird counts I was talking about before. You would think that a deck that plays 3 Dedenne-GX and multiple other relevant Pokémon-GX would want to max out Cherish Ball. Unfortunately, the list is far too tight, and Cherish Ball was one of the first cards to be cut.
I was initially very unsure of playing 4 Pokémon Communication and not 4 Cherish Ball, but this deck plays far too many non-Pokémon-GX to not have 4 copies. As an added bonus, Pokémon Communication doubles as a way to not have to Dedechange or preemptively bench valuable attackers like Victini p. After 14 rounds of playing the deck, the search card counts feel correct and I wouldn’t want to change them up.
Fiery Flint is the only way that this deck actually functions. Giant Hearth is great and all, but sometimes you just want to search out and discard at least 8 Energy in a turn. Giant Hearth also took a massive hit with Chaotic Swell entering the format, so it became vital to play an Energy-searching card that couldn’t be bounced before it was even used.
I’m still very unsure if a single copy is even worth the slot, but I’m hesitant to go down to only Ninetales as my gust. In Brazil, I played 2 copies of Great Catcher, and at times it felt very inadequate, but again, space is too tight to play something that is occasionally a win-more card.
18 Fire Energy
18 is the perfect number in this deck, but I occasionally wished it was 19. 18 means that when you do 280 with Flareon-GX, there’s still 3 Energy for you to play around with. This gives you the leeway of having what is likely 1-of your last 3 Prize cards being Energy. At this point, you have 2–3 Energy to use Infinity, so knowing how many Energy you have access to is vital to not locking yourself out of the game.
In theory, this is an amazing attacker during your first few turns or immediately after using Infinity, but the lack of Fire Crystal in the list makes it much less versatile. Going forward, I could see including a copy, but I’m unsure whether it is worth a slot.
We already play Ditto p, and Magcargo-GX is yet another out to beating decks like Pidgey or Doll Stall. On top of that, having a way to deal 300 damage without using a GX attack and not being a 110-HP glass cannon is pretty cool. Magcargo-GX’s Ability can also let you be super sneaky with Explosive Jet, because if you only have 2 Energy in play, you can easily get up to 6 if you’re lucky.
I really wanted to play this in my LAIC list, but ultimately played a 2nd Giant Hearth instead to deal with Power Plant. Now, I want to play both a 2nd Giant Hearth a 4th Fiery Flint. Having 4 lets you hit the turn 2 280 damage even more often, and that’s definitely something important to the deck.
The deck’s strategy is inherently risky, in that if you Prize too many Fire or Victini, you’re going to need to play very carefully. Playing Fire Crystal mitigates that risk somewhat, but I don’t know if it would have any actual impact of the game because of how often you need to discard your hand. Fire Crystals are more likely than not going to be a casualty of Dedechange or Sprint. The biggest issue though, is that you cannot afford to cut the actual Energy from the list like we did in the past, so you would have to find cuts elsewhere.
This is the greediest of my ideas for techs, but I think it might also be one of the best. We tend to forget that Bellelba & Brycen-Man has two functions because the first one is just so good. One major issue with your late game is that your Bench gets clogged with too many Dedenne, or maybe damaged attackers that you had to retreat. So naturally, the best way to deal with that is to discard them. If that were the only purpose, then I would probably play Giovanni’s Exile. However, there is another, equally good purpose. Against Pidgey and Doll Stall, there’s a very strong chance that you can catch them unawares and win Game 1 and then likely not finish Game 2. This becomes even more broken if you play Magcargo-GX.
The Matchup Spread
Mewtwo & Mew-GX Box: 60/40
This matchup is one where the coin flip matters quite a bit.
- If you go first and find a Welder onto ReshiZard-GX, you’re probably winning the game.
- If you go second, it gets a little more weird.
When going second, your goal is to get a ReshiZard with 3 Energy attached in play, as well as an Eevee/Ditto. In a perfect world, you also have a Blitzle and Jirachi, but that’s a bit greedy. You’re going to need to be discarding Energy as much as possible starting from your first turn, assuming that there’s enough for Flareon-GX to do 280 and still have access to Victini p. You can assume you’ll take an Energy off of the 3 Prize cards if you’re at risk. If you hit the turn 2 280, the game is likely over. If not, good luck. On turn 3, you’ll want to gust up a Mewtwo, assuming it’s not already Active, and use Infinity to win the game. A turn 2 280 damage is not unrealistic. Out of 29 individual games played, I hit the turn 2 280 over 10 times, and I wasn’t even trying to for some of my games.
Time for a short and sweet matchup description. Get Zebstrika out. Attack with Heatran-GX. Use Victini p before you run out of Energy. Win game. Prized Zebstrika? Better draw it in the first few. You got hand-locked before you found the Zebstrika? Literally what were you doing to get to that point? The Zebstrika got milled? Scoop as soon as the hand lock occurs.
This matchup is pretty much a war of attrition. In theory, you can take a Prize or two before they start swinging, but that is only true if there is a lack of Dolls. In this matchup, I would probably try to set up Ninetales as soon as possible, and start targeting whatever the Energy is on at the time. In a perfect world, they start Blacephalon-GX and you can steal 2 Prize cards whenever you want. Once they get going, it’s probably going to be impossible to outpace them, so you need to make good use out of your Turtonator and Victini. Flareon-GX is also a fine attacker here because it takes 5 Energy to 1HKO and can dish out damage for relatively low amounts of Energy.
Ability ReshiZard: 50-50
Literally go find any other matchup description of Ability Zard mirror match [Editor’s note: here you go], and you have what this section would be about. KO Ninetales if possible, don’t miss Welder, and use Victini and Flareon-GX optimally.
This matchup is fine because your opponent has to waste a turn using their GX attack if they ever want to 1HKO ReshiZard. In a perfect world, your opponent benches 2 TAG TEAMs, and you go 300 with ReshiZard, gust, and hit 300+ with Turtonator. Usually, they’re intelligent enough to not do this, so you’re going to want to set up Zebstrika as Reset Stamp protection, and then use whatever attackers best fit the situation. Usually, you want to save Victini for Keldeo-GX, but if you need the Energy in deck, and you’re not KOing a Keldeo then you have to do it.
Green’s Decks (GardEon, BraixZard, ADP): 70-30
You’re playing against decks that are built toward healing and tanking through hits. You’re capable of hitting 280+ damage multiple times. As long as you don’t get Reset Stamped to dead hands, you’re winning the games most of the time. Getting Zebstrika up in these matchups is very important, and it is your main priority Stage 1. Flareon is usually the least important in these matchups.
The last month has been a complete whirlwind of major events and traveling for me, and I’m incredibly glad to be getting a break this weekend, even if that “break” is attending League Cups. I think that the traditional Ability Zard will once again see play for a few weeks, then people will realize that it’s the same deck that we all stopped playing by the end of Standard before CEC dropped.
I think that the Flareon version of the deck is incredibly strong and something that might catch on. The biggest difference is that it can function after missing a single Welder, because it has an attack that costs only a single Energy for massive damage.
I’ll be back with another article the week after Daytona with what I hope is a positive result. As always, good luck in whatever events you’re playing, and maybe you’ll see me around?
Until the next one.
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