The Birds

Not Just A Horror Film (A Deep Dive into Pidgeotto Control for UPR–CEC/Standard)
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“I hardly think a few birds are going to bring about the end of the world.”

As a PokéParent, I am going through some interesting times right now, and as we all know, that is a terrible curse you wouldn’t want to wish on anyone. Our Seniors finishes this season:

  • Atlantic City: 4-2-1
  • Knoxville: 2-3-2
  • Richmond: 3-3-1
  • Portland: 4-2-1
  • Daytona Beach: 3-2-2
  • Dallas: 4-3

The curse of Seniors is the razor-thin line between mediocrity and success. I think we lost win-and-ins at three of these tournaments, and at Dallas we were 4-1 and found a way to drop the last two rounds.

That is about as thoroughly mediocre as a run can get. I haven’t written much because what is there to say? We managed to get the first losing record I can remember us ever having at a Regional by playing at Knoxville. Fun times.

The result has been a lot of introspection about deck choices and a lot of pondering about things by me. My son writes a lot of it off to deck choice, but as a parent invested in my child, I feel the need to absolutely agonize over every decision. I ponder the full gamut of possibilities: diet, fitness, training regimen. As a PokéParent, I feel like competitors at the highest level of any activity need to prepare on all these fronts.

One of the things we tried to do halfway through this was to switch decks a bit less and see if that yielded different outcomes. We decided to go very deep on Pidgeotto Control. We like Control as an archetype—when we think about playing the game, our natural inclination in deck-building is to try to figure out a combo where “we automatically win.” This puts us off mid-range decks and even many aggro decks in favor of and Control. Sorry?

Pidgeotto Control is a powerful deck. If you get the lock up, it requires 3 cards that are all helpful to your opponent in a row (when they are getting Chip-Chipped) to escape the lock.

We spent a lot of time grinding out the list for Pidgeotto, and before the format rotates, I want to share with you the results of our ornithological work.

The List

Pokémon (19)

4 Oranguru UPR

4 Pidgey TEU 122

4 Pidgeotto TEU

2 Articuno-GX

1 Girafarig LOT

1 Ditto p

1 Magnemite CEC 242

1 Magneton CEC

1 Wobbuffet LOT

Trainer (36)

4 Professor Elm’s Lecture

2 Hapu

2 Jessie & James

2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

1 Bellelba & Brycen-Man

1 Mallow & Lana

1 Mars

1 Misty & Lorelei

1 Rosa

1 Tate & Liza

 

4 Pokégear 3.0

3 Acro Bike

3 Chip-Chip Ice Axe

2 Crushing Hammer

2 Pal Pad

2 Reset Stamp

1 Great Catcher

 

2 Power Plant

1 Sky Pillar

Energy (5)

4 Water

1 Recycle

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 19

* 4 Oranguru UPR 114
* 4 Pidgey TEU 122
* 4 Pidgeotto TEU 123
* 2 Articuno-GX CES 31
* 1 Girafarig LOT 94
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Magnemite CEC 242
* 1 Magneton CEC 69
* 1 Wobbuffet LOT 93

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 4 Professor Elm’s Lecture LOT 188
* 2 Hapu UNM 200
* 2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy HIF 60
* 2 Jessie & James HIF 58
* 1 Bellelba & Brycen-Man CEC 186
* 1 Rosa CEC 204
* 1 Misty & Lorelei CEC 199
* 1 Mars UPR 128
* 1 Tate & Liza CES 148
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
* 4 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 3 Acro Bike CES 123
* 3 Chip-Chip Ice Axe UNB 165
* 2 Crushing Hammer SUM 115
* 2 Pal Pad UPR 132
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 2 Power Plant UNB 183
* 1 Sky Pillar CES 144

##Energy - 5

* 4 Water Energy Energy 3
* 1 Recycle Energy UNM 212

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=79189 ******

Cards

Now I will laboriously walk through our cards and their counts—much of this will touch on matchups, but in the big scheme of things every matchup is the same, so discussing matchups is boring—at some point you will have 1 to 4 Prizes left and you will play (worst-case scenario) Reset Stamp, Lt. Surge’s Strategy, Jessie & James, Jessie & James to reduce your opponent’s hand to 0 cards, Chip-Chip Ice Axe to control their topdeck, and then Cold Crush-GX to strip the Active attacker of Energy. Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter who they are or what they do, your objective is to get those cards in your hand at the moment you are ready and then lock them out of the game. Our goal is to make the game non-interactive by executing our strategy.

Pokémon

4 Oranguru UPR, 4 Pidgey TEU 122, Pidgeotto TEU

The core of the deck. These and the 4 Professor Elm’s Lecture form the essence of the deck.

2 Articuno-GX

Some people only run a single Articuno-GX, but you should assume access to Articuno-GX every game is required, so two is correct. There is no card not in this list more important than Articuno-GX. You will see that we have done a fair bit of planning for bad Prizes because we played this at a lot of League Cups and driving good outcomes in Bo1 requires it.

1 Girafarig LOT

Lost Zoning resources is important to the deck. You need this to beat Doll Stall, for example.

1 Ditto p

Ditto gives you more outs to Pidgeotto and Magneton. Ditto is a great card for Stage 1 decks. That is all.

1 Magnemite CEC 242, 1 Magneton CEC

Many people do not play Magneton. That is incorrect. Magneton is useful in several dimensions: It allows you to get 3 Supporters out of your deck—trading 2 cards for 3 cards from anywhere in the deck is reasonable, particularly when you need those Supporters for the lock. Acro Bike trades 1 card for 1 of the next 2 cards in the deck, so Magneton sounds exceptionally reasonable in this context.

Further, it can be critical in many ways: Against Doll Stall or other Stall decks, you can feed the Doll player a Prize to unlock Surge plays. If a player is slow-playing and poking with something like Mew UNB or Linear Attack to set up a big Prize turn, Magneton allows you to control tempo by forcing them to take Prizes.

Furthermore, there are many games where they take 2 Prizes and then try to set up a 4-Prize turn to keep you from locking. You can force them to take Prizes allowing you to set up the lock. Even better: You control when they take the Prize instead of waiting for them to Stamp you and then do their thing.

In fact, it is correct to run Magnemite in addition to Magneton for several reasons. First, you may prize Ditto. Second, you may want to play several Magneton in a game, but with Ditto you only get one chance. Third, and most importantly, if you start Ditto or prize one or more Pidgey, you will feel extraordinary pressure to evolve it to a Pidgeotto. Many times, this may be prior to realizing that you need Magneton in a game, yet the decision will already have been made. You do not want the correct decision of evolving Ditto to Pidgeotto keep you from going Magneton if you need it.

Finally, if you are playing against a heavy Stamp deck, Magneton can give you some recovery to get the pieces to execute the lock at a key moment.

1 Wobbuffet LOT

You need this to deal with Victini p in Fire matchups. If they put more than a few Fire Energy back into their deck with Victini p, it dramatically increases the odds that they will find a card off Chip-Chip that they value—Energy. is usually necessary to cement the lock because if you let them fill their deck with Energy, it will put you in an awkward spot.

Trainer

4 Professor Elm’s Lecture, 4 Pokégear 3.0

Hitting a turn one Elm’s advances your board state more than any other turn one play. Max counts of Elm’s and Pokégear maximize the odds of this.

2 Hapu

Many people run 0 or 1 Hapu in their list. Two is better. Your objective early game is to do two things:

  1. First, assemble the cards for the lock.
  2. Second, get your deck to 0 cards.

If you have all the pieces to put the lock in place, but your deck has many cards in it, when you attempt to Resource Management your Chip-Chip Ice Axes and Supporters, you will not be able to find them fast enough and you will lose. You need to find the key cards and burn your entire deck quickly. Hapu excels at doing both of these things, therefore it is an excellent card. The odds that there will be 2+ pieces you need in the next 7 cards are not insanely high. The odds that 1 or 2 pieces are there are very, very high. And you just burned 7 cards in your deck. Hapu is a great Supporter for turn.

1 Rosa

Rosa is similar to Magneton and Hapu in that it thins the deck of several cards and it gets pieces for the lock. An easy line of play if your opponent took a KO and you have a Reset Stamp or Chip-Chip Ice Axe in hand is Magneton for Surge, Rosa, J&J. Play Surge, play Rosa for Articuno, Water Energy, and the Item you don’t have, and then Stamp, J&J, Chip-Chip, Cold Crush. So if they take a Prize their 3rd Prize and set up a Rosa play when you have access to Magneton, they virtually lock themselves.

2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

It is possible to get the lock up without Surge, it is just unpleasant. And it requires you have all the pieces and they be at 1 or 2 Prizes. Having Surge to allow you to grab a piece or, if you have the pieces, target them at 3 or 4 Prizes.

2 Jessie & James, 1 Mars

Many people play 1 J&J and 2 Mars. We play 2 J&J and 1 Mars. Everyone that plays Pidgeotto thinks they are safe until they go down to just a few Prizes. We want to control tempo far more aggressively than that. With our list, if they are slow, when they take their first Prize, we can pop Magneton, Surge, and double J&J them to put the lock up. Their only win conditions rely on outspeeding us.

As discussed previously, our bias is toward creating a 100% fool-proof lock, so the option to Mars 1 of their 2 cards and leave them with hope is far less appealing. Mars is a consistency card compared to J&J, so it has that positive appeal, but prizing a J&J if you run only 1 means that you are forced to wait until they are at 1 or 2 Prizes remaining. We want to preserve our flexibility.

Also, we have found that randomly J&Jing mid-game impacts their ability to be aggressive and we usually are rapidly amassing a hand of cards we don’t value regardless (Elm’s, for example). The result is slowed tempo for them and increasing likelihood of victory for us.

1 Bellelba & Brycen-Man

A card you really need, but if you prize it, you can live. If you prize it, you end up with an awkward but manageable end game where you are repeatedly Stamping your opponent to put their valuable resources into their hand, then J&J and Chip-Chip to take the resources out of their hand. If you think about it, this just means 2 cards per turn instead of Bellelba, so it is fine; it is just slower. Having said that, Bellelba is much faster and more aggressive.

Also, if you don’t need to Stamp your opponent, you can pull off turns with Pal Pad where you Surge and then double Bellelba every few turns to really aggressively mill.

A great card for the deck, but a 1-of is OK because when you prize it every 10 games, you can play around it in the lock just fine.

1 Misty & Lorelei

Many lists don’t play this card, but it is very strong. First, we run enough Water Energy to get good value out of a Misty in emptying out our deck. Second, the option to Cold Crush twice in a game is fantastic. If someone is powering up something huge and you Cold Crush them to slow tempo while working to set up the lock, that can be a great play. For example, in the matchup, basically all you have to do is Cold Crush twice and you win. But if you just sit there and let them GX you, you put yourself in a situation where they can take their Prizes before you assemble all the pieces to lock them out of the game.

1 Tate & Liza, 1 Mallow & Lana

You need two switch effects in case you prize one. A switch effect is a key piece of the lock for the turn after you put the lock up because you need to get the Articuno out of the Active. If you can’t do that, you will lose the lock so it is an absolute priority that you have one of these two Supporters in hand at that moment. Hence we run two.

We had been running 2 Tate & Liza because they also provide early-game consistency, but the growth of Cryogonal UNM in has prompted more support for Mallow & Lana. It also can help insulate you from Linear Attacks and related poking by Pokémon.

3 Acro Bike, 2 Crushing Hammer

Acro Bike are great because they help you find pieces and burn the deck. Some would say a 4th Bike is better than Hapu, but that assumes that we never have a turn where we want to play Hapu when we have Pidgeottos set up and are now digging to set up the lock. That has rarely been the case for us.

Further, if you haven’t gotten the Pidgeotto army set up, it is rare that looking at two cards and taking one will be enough to fix your dead hand if you are not able to Elm’s. Hapu gives far better consistency and insulation.

You could cut an Acro Bike for something like more , but the most important thing is not Hammering an Energy, it is setting up the lock. Taken to the logical conclusion the other way, one might say say, “Cut the 2nd Hammer for 4th Acro Bike.” Unfortunately, we feel having access to a Hammer is important in some situations—maybe you really need to take an Energy off the board—the 2nd Hammer insulates us from bad Prizes in this regard. This is a very reasonable compromise.

Some people play Will, but our reaction is we could just play another Hammer instead and it conserves our Supporter for turn.

3 Chip-Chip Ice Axe

Three is the correct count. You will have to play two different Chip-Chips back to back at one point in the game. The turn you Cold Crush requires you to Chip-Chip to set the lock up. The turn after you Cold Crush you will play your switch Supporter to move the Articuno from the Active, you will play another Chip-Chip, and then you will Resource Management both back into the deck. Then you are cycling the lock. But you must have two to initiate a foolproof lock. Otherwise there will be a turn where you do not control their topdeck. The 3rd copy is insulation against prizing because two is required.

2 Pal Pad

Pal Pad is a very strong card in this deck. It insulates you against bad Acro Bikes and Hapus and it lets you Surge-double-Bellelba. It lets you play greedier and faster with your resources and this allows you to mill opponents faster, lower the risk of discards, and put more tempo pressure on your opponent. Most importantly, it insulates you against Mewtwo Macargo-GX plays and junk Reset Stamp plays as your deck gets low.

Double Pal Pad plus Resource Management puts 7 cards in your deck. There is not another way to efficiently get your deck from 0 to 7 in a single turn. This is fairly low risk and can be played around, so we just play the two. When you Resource Pal Pads, you are speeding up your mill.

2 Reset Stamp

Much like Articuno-GX, you must Reset Stamp your opponent once at an incredibly important point in the game in almost every game. It is important to have one and not prize it.

1 Great Catcher

Many people run 3 Custom Catcher, but in our testing, the Pokémon we wanted to put in the Active were Pokémon-GX. This gives us 2 extra cards to put in the deck. There are very remote awkward spots where this could theoretically be difficult, but in practice there was 1 game out of more than 100 where we wished things were different. And there are not really any cards to cut at this point. Cutting 2 Custom Catchers is definitely for the best.

2 Power Plant

Power Plant is a good card—it slows their tempo. But it just slows their tempo. In this way, it is not dissimilar from the Acro Bike/Hammer discussion. It is absolutely critical in the Dark matchup—you lose without it—but other than that, it is just very helpful.

1 Sky Pillar

Increasingly, decks are playing a poke, poke, poke, poke strategy against Pidgeotto Control that targets your draw engine. Sky Pillar can help regulate that. If you are trying to stop sniping, Mew is a popular alternative, but alas, Bench space is at a premium in this deck and Sky Pillar is a better alternative. Unfortunately, the risk of Sky Pillar is that they play Faba and they can simply Lost Zone it and then return to executing their strategy. Fortunately, you have bait to lure them into your trap.

While all of this is true in theory, if you play down a Recycle Energy, it is difficult for them to resist the opportunity to Faba such a valuable resource. Once they have used their Faba, generally it will be difficult for them to find it again even if they have a Pal Pad—they have to find it before you lock them—and you can typically Sky Pillar and resume searching for pieces for the lock.

Also, there are be situations where your opponent has played Power Plant or you need to replace your own Power Plant so you can use Legendary Ascent to get your Articuno-GX into the Active. It is important to have an alternate Stadium in that situation.

Energy

4 Water Energy, 1 Recycle Energy

Some people run a 2/2 split or a 3/1. We have found 4/1 to be good for us. This allows us to attach and retreat, get value out of Misty & Lorelei, and even Ice Wing from time to time. With 4 Water, prizing Recycle doesn’t punish us. Similarly, prizing 1 or even 2 Water is fine.

Other Options

Jirachi TEU

Many people play the Jirachi package. The problem with this is you have to cut at least 6 cards from our list to execute it. And you get limited value from it—1 card from deck each turn. We can get cards from deck faster and 6 cards is too high a price to pay. And if you are using Jirachi, you aren’t using Resource Management.

Absol TEU

This may slow their tempo, or it may not. The only situation where one could say you “need” Absol is if your opponent was attacking with a free retreater (e.g., Latios-GX UNM) while powering up a non-free retreater on the Bench (e.g., Giratina LOT). We have found Fire decks requiring Wobbuffet to be more prevalent in our meta, but if you encountered a lot of , you could go this path.

Having said that, in our Malamar games, we have found prevailing Malamar wisdom to be powering up a snipe attacker such as Blacephalon CEC or Mew UNB to poke, poke, poke, which allows us to simply use Magneton to engage the lock. Alternately, if they attack with the Latios and we are forced to Cold Crush a free retreater, the next turn you can Misty & Lorelei into a 2nd Cold Crush on their alternate attacker. If you do this, you probably have to engage the lock on the first Cold Crush because alternately they could retreat to the Bench, power up the Latios, and then switch it back to the Active, fortunately, you have a 3rd Chip-Chip Ice Axe in deck to allow you to extend the lock for an extra turn.

The result is that the Wobbuffet is marginally more correct than the Absol because the only situation where you get utility out of the Absol can be played around without the Absol.

Pokémon Fan Club

People play Fan Club, usually as an alternative to Hapu, but Hapu tends to be better—you are somewhat likely to get the same pieces as a Fan Club if those were the pieces you want but if you don’t need Pokémon, Hapu gives you more choices. Hapu also burns your deck faster. Both of these cards are just for positioning yourself to engage the lock. Hapu is better.

Conclusion

Hopefully you find this analysis of Pidgeotto helpful! As always, I will probably be at many Regionals in the future, probably not being social, so stop by and say hi! Always happy to chat with people.

Reader Interactions

3 replies

  1. patrick982421

    I think I lost to your son at a League Cup playing this list! also wanted to point out to the editor that there is an image of Absol from roaring skies where it is meant to be the one from Team Up.

  2. Kallor

    Great article! I just picked up the game a couple months ago and am learning this deck. Question: how do you play against reset stamp? Seems like it can be back breaking if they fire one off a turn or two before you go off.

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