Hello again SixPrizes readers, it has been a short while and while it feels strange to say, we’ve already ran through all the major North American tournaments in this current Standard format. The format, however, has shifted dramatically from event to event and with it my deck choices and mentality as well.
You saw me piloting a traditional aggressive Mewtwo TAG TEAM deck at LAIC then transition to Daytona Beach , where fellow writer Xander Pero’s innovative ADPero list was the deck of choice. What led me to playing Garchomp & Giratina-GX/Mismagius in San Diego ? Reading a rapidly changing metagame is one of the most valuable skills to have as a player and I’ll break down the two decks I played and how I did.
Daytona Beach w/ ADPero
As many of you know by now, myself and Xander Pero piloted his ADPero creation revolutionized by the addition of Rosa to the deck. What many don’t know is that until after the tournament I was unaware that Rosa could grab any Trainer card (and not just Items). Would this have made a difference in any of my games? I hope it didn’t, but there’s no way to tell.
3 Tag Call
6 Water Energy
5 Metal Energy
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 12
##Trainer Cards - 35
* 4 Lillie UPR 125
* 2 Rosa CEC 204
* 2 Cynthia & Caitlin CEC 189
* 2 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
* 1 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
* 4 Custom Catcher LOT 171
* 3 Tag Call CEC 206
* 3 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 3 Switch CES 147
* 2 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 2 Escape Board UPR 122
* 1 Counter Gain LOT 170
* 3 Chaotic Swell CEC 187
##Energy - 13
* 6 Water Energy Energy 3
* 5 Metal Energy Energy 8
* 2 Rainbow Energy CES 151
Total Cards - 60
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Why I Played It
You guys have seen this list broken down by the creator and innovator himself, but allow me to explain what drew me into this choice over playing Mewtwo once again.
Reading a metagame, as I’ve stated before, is a skill that comes with time and knowledge of pattern recognition. Most of the time a deck that has already won a tournament will be in the spotlight, and with enough time answers can be found. LAIC was dominated by ADP and Mewtwo with AbilityZard taking the whole thing down. What stopped ADP from winning the entire event if it was the most represented deck at the event? Mewtwo playing Turtonator and AbilityZard being the unknown quantity was a recipe for disaster for what I perceive is the best deck in this Standard format.
What changed heading into Daytona Beach? AbilityZard was back on the map and when people know that it’s coming people can tech accordingly and prepare for it. Knowing that fact, we accepted a loss completely into this matchup. The idea was that someone else would beat it for us.
The perceived threat was Doll Stall, Mewtwo, and Pidgey Control in our eyes because they had such a dominant showing in LAIC and didn’t seem like they had obvious answers. Custom Catchers, Girafarig LOT, and Cryogonal UNM were the answers that Xander came up with to deal with the Turtonator and Mewtwo in general, as well as Doll Stall and Pidgey as a whole. Lana’s Fishing Rod was the 61st card that we wanted to add to make sure those matchups were secured.
Without further ado, I’ll break down my tournament and what I learned from my losses.
R1: Mewtwo (Gustavo Wada) … LL
R2: AbilityZard … WW
R3: Mewtwo … WW
R4: Golisopod/Counter Gain … LWW
R5: AbilityZard … LL
R6: Poipole Stall … WLT
R7: Dark Box … WW
R8: GardEon WW
R9: Green’s Zard … WW
R10: Pika Judge … LWW
R11: Blacephalon (Jose Marrero) … WLW
R12: ADP (Franco Takahashi) (59-Card Mirror) … WLL
R13: GardEon (Drew Cate) … WLL
R14: TinaChomp/Malamar … ID
Final Record: 8-4-2, 30th Place
What Went Wrong?
Besides the earlier statement regarding my lack of knowledge of what Rosa did, why didn’t I end up making Top 8 like Xander? First things first, I acknowledge that my matchup spread was a little more unorthodox than most would have expected.
Round 1 was against Gustavo which meant I had no time to learn the matchup and I opened ADP both games which was a death sentence that I didn’t know. The deck might be called ADP, but there are certain situations where Keldeo-GX is the only thing that can clean up a game.
Round 4 vs. Golisopod/Counter Gain was a match win, but I feel the need to explain why I lost a game in the set to this rogue deck. Game 1 I was playing textbook and going with ADP to use Altered Creation-GX and followed up with Keldeo, but learned that my opponent was playing somewhat of a counter deck to me with Golisopod UNM doing exactly 180 damage to take out a Keldeo-GX. The important thing is that I learned that he played Mimikyu TEU and Counter Gain as well as understood how his deck functioned. A counter deck can’t deal with your deck when you do nothing because of how reactive the deck is. Adapting your strategy throughout a Best-of-3 series is another important skill to have.
Round 5 I faced an AbilityZard that took me out in a swift 2-0.
In Round 12 I knew that a tie did nothing for me or Franco, so I scooped Game 3 when I realized that I prized both my ADP and had no shot at winning the mirror.
Round 13 was crucial because I was the first to hit Drew and his GardEon and allowed the rest of the ADPero group to understand what was in his deck and how to approach it.
Sorry for the long ramble about Daytona Beach, but this is a primer to how San Diego rolled around and the deck choice that I made.
San Diego w/ TinaChomp
The week leading up to San Diego was my first week of work, so I didn’t have too much time to play games but I was theorizing constantly. GuzzNag was at the forefront of my mind because Malamar, ADP, and Mewtwo had risen to the front of the format. After talking all week to Justin Bokhari, the eventual champion, we theorized a TinaChomp deck around 10 PM Friday. I came in around midnight and made a single change (the Lt. Surge) and we called it a night.
Pablo prepared the stage for me to break down the deck in detail, so I’ll do exactly that. The idea of this deck is that it is very reactive in nature and requires a player to prepare their game plan well in advance. From the first deck search, you should know how you aim to take all 6 Prize cards and how slow or fast you need to play the game. With a Green’s Exploration engine it makes every search that much more important to set up future turns or simply keep yourself alive for the time being.
The decklist that we settled on had some cards we were unsure about heading into the event, but hindsight was fortunate this time around.
4 Tag Call
3 Pokégear 3.0
3 Psychic Energy
2 Fighting Energy
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 12
##Trainer Cards - 38
* 4 Green’s Exploration UNB 175
* 3 Cynthia & Caitlin CEC 189
* 2 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
* 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy HIF 60
* 1 Faba LOT 173
* 4 Tag Call CEC 206
* 3 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 3 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 3 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 2 Dusk Stone UNB 167
* 2 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 1 Energy Spinner UNB 170
* 1 Beast Ring FLI 102
* 1 Switch CES 147
* 1 Karate Belt UNM 201
* 1 Counter Gain LOT 170
* 4 Power Plant UNB 183
##Energy - 10
Total Cards - 60
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I believe this was the “Perfect 60” for this event. Every single card that was played got used multiple times and I’ll explain in greater detail why and when I used them.
This might come as a shock to most people because the LAIC GuzzNag list played a full playset of both cards, and that was the list that many were familiar with until this point. The TinaChomp deck aims to take a turn before using the Mismagius engine for the draw power, or even sacrificing the first TinaChomp in order to have more effective Reset Stamps throughout the game. The only matchups where using all 3 Mismagius is crucial are Doll Stall and Blacephalon/Pidgeotto, because our Blacephalon CEC can offset the Prize trade and take out their support Pokémon. The 3rd Dusk Stone was the last cut that was made and the 4th Mismagius was a slot that we searched for because Doll Stall had made such a splash the weekend before in Daytona Beach, but we couldn’t find any cards that could be considered expendable.
This was the most questionable card that we chose to include. I wanted to cut the card because it was proving useless in the few test games we had and the prospect of opening this card with a Green’s Exploration in my hand and no Power Plant made me afraid. The logic behind keeping the card was that in the ADP matchup you could 1-shot Keldeo-GX, as well as take 2 Prizes using Chaotic Order-GX. In any Control matchup it would be similar where a Beast Ring could set up the Chaotic Order-GX out of nowhere on your Bench. After the tournament I was glad I kept the card because it greatly improved the ADP matchup and ADP was definitely the deck to beat going into the event.
This was one of the few cards that drew me to the deck as a whole. Using Beast Ring or even a Psychic Energy + Counter Gain, the deck had a 1-Prize attacker that could set up for TinaChomp to come in and deal massive amounts of damage with Calamitous Slash. The idea of one card improving any matchup that involved Pidgey or Dolls was too good to ignore. This card was the unsung hero of the tournament for me as it netted me at least two wins throughout the day.
This might have been the only perceivable change I would have made to the list, cutting both the Unit Energy for an additional pair of Rainbow Energy. The Unit was good because it didn’t reduce the HP of our TAG TEAMs and put them at risk, but the Unit Energy felt strictly inferior to the Rainbow and attaching it Turn 1 meant I had no threat of a Turn 2 GG End-GX with Karate Belt.
The 1 Weakness Guard Energy felt like a no-brainer after watching GardEon breeze through Daytona Beach the past weekend. Going into a tournament without an answer to it felt wrong.
This Supporter split may seem a bit odd, but allow me to explain why I felt it was perfect. Without an early Green’s Exploration, Cynthia & Caitlin is the only draw the deck has and using one early wouldn’t feel as bad when you’re looking for a Supporter out of the discard late game, such as a Faba.
Originally we were going to only run 1 copy of Guzma & Hala, but after playing a few games I felt like the 2nd copy was invaluable, because it grabbed the exact three things you need on almost every Turn 2 with the deck:
The only copy of Mallow & Lana was useful in some niche situations, but felt like it was only in the deck to make sure the Malamar matchup doesn’t get too bad. With giving up an early 3 Prizes and constantly using Reset Stamp, the 2nd TinaChomp usually ends the game without needing this card.
After the events of Daytona Beach where ADPero took the event by storm, Faba became an auto-inclusion because of how powerful it was against Chaotic Swell and how easy it would be to find with Green’s Exploration.
Lt. Surge’s Strategy was a card that the group found hard to use until I proposed waiting to use Mismagius. A slower more methodical strategy where you could use the first Green’s to simply grab the Surge and set up for a big Surge turn on the following turn. Cynthia & Caitlin also acts as a free pick up my Surge, or use Green’s Exploration from my discard and draw 3 cards for my turn. There was many times over the weekend I would use the Surge, recycle it to my hand with Cynthia & Caitlin and then proceed to use a Faba or Green’s Exploration to set up pseudo checkmate scenarios. It gave the deck a miracle chance to come back from almost any scenario.
This was another tough decision that had to be made because of space in the deck. Henry Brand sported a copy of 1 Great Catcher and 2 Custom Catcher in his Top 8 Brisbane build, which allowed him to deal with potential non-GX threats on the Bench, but having 2 Great Catcher meant that matchups like Mewtwo were even easier once the first Linear Attack hit the board. There was never a time I wished I had the 2 Custom Catchers over the Great Catchers and found myself thankful I had the 2nd Great Catcher to close out the game.
The Beast Ring was a potential cut as well because of how niche it seemed from our limited testing. During the tournament I realized how many different checkmate scenarios you could set up with the GuzzNag-GX and Beast Ring, both cards that were searchable through Green’s Exploration and leave your opponent with no choice but to find an answer to multiple threats at once. The Beast Ring also allowed Blacephalon CEC to be set up out of nowhere and take Prizes, against some decks like Blacephalon/Pidgeotto the strategy would be to allow them to KO a TinaChomp and pivot into Blacephalon CEC to pick off the Pidgey.
This was another topic of deliberation as a 2nd Counter Gain seemed better in most scenarios, especially to utilize the Blacephalon CEC and GuzzNag-GX, but the Karate Belt allowed us to use GG End-GX on the second turn if a scary enough threat emerged and effectively served the same purpose in any matchup that didn’t require the two tech attackers.
R1: Doll Stall … WW
R2: Dark Box … WW
R3: AbilityZard … WW
R4: Green’s ADP … LWW
R5: Doll Stall … LWL
R6: Mewtwo … WW
R7: ADPero (Alexander Gomez) … WW
R8: Blacephalon/Pidgeotto (Alan Cook) … WLL
R9: ??? … ID
R10: Mewtwo … WW
R11: TrevNoir/Mismagius … WLW
R12: Roxie Checkmate … WLL
R13: Mewtwo (Jon Eng) … WW
R14: Roxie Checkmate … LWT
Final Record: 9-3-2, 13th Place
I started the day off blazing hot in Day 1, but that doesn’t mean I was playing well.
In the 4th Round I was unable to realize that a Green’s version of ADP would play multiple copies of Choice Helmet, so I never Green’s Explorationed for the right cards and lost a quick Game 1. The latter two games I was ready and prepared to GG End-GX the ADP once it had used its GX attack to buy myself enough time to Linear Attack any threats into a Calamitous Slash to close out both games.
The 5th Round was an embarrassment to myself as the third game I made an unbelievably rookie mistake by using GG End-GX on a target on the Bench with Sky Pillar in play. I had the counter Stadium in my hand and simply misunderstood the card. That one turn ended up costing me the entire set.
The 8th round had me face to face with my first Blacephalon/Pidgeotto which I thought to be a fairly even matchup until Games 2 and 3 where Alan was able to take a knockout on my TinaChomp on the second turn of the game and I was unable to provide any response.
Round 12 was my first time coming face to face with the Roxie Checkmate deck and the first game was Jacob trying to use a single Whimsicott-GX to wall me out, but I used my plethora of Power Plant to get through it. The second game came down to the wire, but my late-game Stamp didn’t stick and he was able to get out of it. The third game was the only one where prizing my single copy of Mallow & Lana ended up coming back to bite me as Jacob was able to heavily damage one of my TinaChomp and use the Persian-GX to take the final 3 Prizes after using Stinger-GX the turn before.
In Round 14 I found myself face to face with the deck again. Game 1 was interesting as Preston chose to set up 2 Persian-GX and simply take all 6 Prize cards. The game came down to a Stamp to 1 with Preston having roughly 13 cards in deck with 1 Triple C Energy left and he was able to find it. The second game I chose to set up Blacephalon CEC on the 2nd turn of the game, and, after Preston had Bench-locked himself, I chose to not take a knockout and instead spread damage wisely. He was forced into using an early Persian-GX to KO my Blacephalon CEC, but the damage had already been done. By the time I had taken the 2nd game there wasn’t enough time on the clock to complete a third game. I had set up my board favorably enough that I felt like the game was mine to lose, but time was called and because I was up-paired the game ended in a tie putting Preston on a bubble scenario due to 2 other tables tying their games. It was a bittersweet way to end things as Justin won the entire tournament with ease, but my poor play in Rounds 5 and 12 caught up with me toward the end.
This deck was one that required a lot of foresight and a few simple mistakes put me out of contention for the title and reflecting on them is something any player should do. A Top 16 finish is nothing to scoff at, but it isn’t the title and being complacent and content with a finish that was riddled with mistakes can be considered delusional.
What would I change moving forward with the list?
- I mentioned the Unit Energies becoming Rainbows to simply make life easier, but the deck has no answer to Tag Purge as it stands.
- An Ultra Forest Kartenvoy should make its way into the deck somehow, but the cut is one that is unknown to me at this moment. Perhaps the Beast Ring or Faba, depending on your metagame and what decks you expect to see.
The deck boasts favorable matchups to ADP, Mewtwo, and Control decks like Pidgey but struggles against Blacephalon/Pigeotto and Malamar variants. I would highly recommend playing a few games to understand each matchup and how to approach it before taking this deck to a tournament, especially a Best-of-1 League Cup. With all that being said, good luck and have fun!
I know this article was a bit wordier than normal, but I have received a lot of questions regarding how to play the deck and how the list works in general, so I figured I would dump the entirety of my thought processes and how functionally useful every single card was for me. With no more North American majors left in the UPR–CEC Standard format, Cups will be interesting to observe as the metagame continues to shift.
My next event will be Dallas Regionals which will be the first tournament in Expanded after the new ban list has taken effect, so hopefully I won’t be piloting Vespiquen again if I find something more fun. After that, I’ll be heading to Australia to try my hand at another new format and new rules (pending announcement). Thank you all for the support and sticking with me through this article. I hope learning how TinaChomp/Mismagius works has been informative to everyone. I can’t wait to be back with some Expanded ideas later!
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