Beginning Very Epic

The Rise and Glory Days of My Pokémon Career, Including Every Deck I Played During HS-on/2012 and BLW-on/2013 Modified Formats
“The Pokémon player this card is attached to can remember any deck they played during any previous competitive season.”

How often do you sit back and think about seasons past? About the decks you played, the friends you made, and your successes and failures? If you’re a newer player, does the idea of playing old formats with cards you’ve never seen before excite you?

These novelties are something I never spend enough time on. It’s always more important to test the current format. If I’m at a tournament, I want to utilize the time between rounds scouting the field for secret decks and surprise techs, and I want to spend the late hours watching the top cut play out on stage.

Well, without that hustle and bustle, I’ve been thinking a lot about the early seasons I played. After some lively, nostalgic conversations with my brother and several hours reconstructing on PTCGO, I’m proud to bring you every deck I played in the 2012 and 2013 seasons. With each deck I’ll give commentary about the format at the time, and share bits of my journey as I piloted them.

HS–EPO

Emerging Powers was the set released after Worlds 2011, a year famous for its mid-season rotation, Pokémon Reversal flips, and Ross Cawthon’s The Truth deck. Jay Hornung wonderfully documented the pre-EPO HS-on format extensively in his recent article. Let me remind you of some rules at this point in the game:

  • Player who wins the coin flip must go first.
  • Player who goes first has no restrictions.
  • Pokémon Catcher did not require a coin flip.
  • Burn is permanent like Poison, and you flip to see if you take damage.

Emerging Powers was a notably bad set in terms of Pokémon—you can count on one hand the number of playable Pokémon cards—but it shipped with broken Item cards that would shape the game in the years to come:

Since the pool of good Pokémon remained more or less the same, the HS–EPO meta looks very similar to HS–BLW, except with the aforementioned Items woven into existing decks. The following MegaJudge list reflects that and is overall uninteresting. However, it holds a special place in my heart as the first “real” deck I piloted to success, a Top 4 placement in Virginia Regionals 2011. Prior to this, I built decks with whatever cards I had. Having a coherent strategy and enough consistency Trainer cards was enough to achieve success as a Junior at that time. But with this deck, I put my own spin on a meta archetype!

Here’s one thing I didn’t realize at the time: I met a handful of lifelong friends at that event: my teammate and testing buddy Michael Catron, fellow SixPrizes writer Jon Eng, 2019 Worlds semifinalist Blaine Hill, Logan Hontz, and more.

MegaJudge

Pokémon (20)

4 Magnemite TM

1 Magneton TM

3 Magnezone Prime

4 Yanma TM

3 Yanmega Prime

1 Horsea UL

1 Kingdra Prime

1 Cleffa HS

1 Pachirisu CL

1 Tyrogue HS

Trainer (30)

4 Pokémon Collector

3 Judge

2 Copycat

1 Twins

 

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Rare Candy

3 Junk Arm

3 Pokégear 3.0

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Switch

1 Max Potion

Energy (10)

8 L

2 Rainbow

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 20

* 4 Magnemite TM 68
* 1 Magneton TM 43
* 3 Magnezone Prime 96
* 4 Yanma TM 84
* 3 Yanmega Prime
* 1 Horsea UL 49
* 1 Kingdra Prime
* 1 Cleffa HS 17
* 1 Pachirisu CL 18
* 1 Tyrogue HS 33

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 2 Switch
* 4 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 3 Pokégear 3.0
* 3 Judge
* 3 Pokémon Catcher
* 2 Copycat
* 1 Twins TM 89
* 4 Rare Candy
* 4 Pokémon Communication
* 3 Junk Arm TM 87
* 1 Max Potion

##Energy - 10

* 8 L Energy HS 118
* 2 Rainbow Energy HS 104

Total Cards - 60

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HS–NVI

After EPO came Noble Victories, which had many great cards and significantly shook up the game. One criticism of this time period was the shift to emphasis on big Basic Pokémon, and it’s true, Pokémon decided around this time to start putting the best attacks and good HP on the Legendary Pokémon. And while NVI did release a handful of these offenders—like Terrakion NVI, Cobalion NVI, and Kyurem NVI—the format was still a healthy blend of both Evolution and Basic Pokémon. The darkness that followed sadly left this quaint little format unappreciated.

VVV

Pokémon (23)

4 Vanillite NVI

4 Vanillish NVI

3 Vanilluxe NVI

3 Oddish UD

1 Gloom UD

2 Vileplume UD

2 Victini NVI 14

1 Cleffa HS

1 Pichu HS

1 Smeargle UD

1 Victini NVI 15

Trainer (27)

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Twins

3 Cheren

3 N

2 Sage’s Training

1 Flower Shop Lady

1 Interviewer’s Questions

 

4 Pokémon Communication

3 Rare Candy

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy (10)

5 W

3 Rescue

2 Rainbow

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 23

* 4 Vanillite NVI 27
* 4 Vanillish NVI 28
* 3 Vanilluxe NVI 29
* 3 Oddish UD 60
* 1 Gloom UD 27
* 2 Vileplume UD 24
* 2 Victini NVI 14
* 1 Cleffa HS 17
* 1 Pichu HS 28
* 1 Smeargle UD 8
* 1 Victini NVI 15

##Trainer Cards - 27

* 4 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 4 Twins TM 89
* 3 N
* 3 Cheren EPO 91
* 2 Sage’s Training UD 77
* 1 Flower Shop Lady UD 74
* 1 Interviewer’s Questions UL 77
* 4 Pokémon Communication
* 3 Rare Candy
* 2 Tropical Beach PR-BLW 50

##Energy - 10

* 3 Rescue Energy TR 90
* 2 Rainbow Energy HS 104
* 5 W Energy HS 117

Total Cards - 60

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Personally, I enjoyed playing Vileplume decks in this format. The idea of shutting off Items like Pokémon Catcher and Switch and limiting my opponent’s options really appealed to me. The basic idea of VVV is to Paralyze lock with Double Freeze, and thanks to Vanilluxe NVI’s high HP, you would trade up 2-for-1 until victory. (Yes, 130 HP was high back then. The big breakpoint was 120 damage from Zekrom BLW or Reshiram BLW, so Vileplume also helped by shutting off PlusPower.)

This particular list is vanilla save the Victini NVI 15 and Interviewer’s Questions. The so-called bad Victini is a tech for Cobalion NVI, which is capable of trading evenly with Vanilluxe thanks to Weakness, and the Interviewer’s Questions is to keep the Energy drops flowing, especially against late-game Ns.

ChandyPlume

Pokémon (25)

4 Litwick BW27

3 Lampent NVI

3 Chandelure NVI

3 Oddish UD

1 Gloom UD

2 Vileplume UD

2 Doduo UD

2 Dodrio UD

2 Cobalion NVI

2 Pichu HS

1 Cleffa HS

Trainer (23)

4 Pokémon Collector

4 Twins

2 N

2 Professor Juniper

1 Copycat

1 Flower Shop Lady

 

4 Pokémon Communication

3 Rare Candy

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy (12)

4 Special M

4 P

2 Rainbow

2 Rescue

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 25

* 4 Litwick PR-BLW 27
* 3 Lampent NVI 59
* 3 Chandelure NVI 60
* 3 Oddish UD 60
* 1 Gloom UD 27
* 2 Vileplume UD 24
* 2 Doduo UD 45
* 2 Dodrio UD 11
* 2 Cobalion NVI
* 2 Pichu HS 28
* 1 Cleffa HS 17

##Trainer Cards - 23

* 1 Copycat
* 4 Pokémon Collector HS 97
* 1 Flower Shop Lady UD 74
* 2 Tropical Beach PR-BLW 50
* 2 N
* 4 Twins TM 89
* 3 Rare Candy
* 4 Pokémon Communication
* 2 Professor Juniper

##Energy - 12

* 2 Rescue Energy TM 90
* 4 P Energy HS 119
* 2 Rainbow Energy HS 104
* 4 Special M

Total Cards - 60

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The strategy of Chandelure decks is basically the same as VVV, but Chandy goes about it in a different way. While VVV relies on trading up with its HP, Chandelure focuses on exploiting high Retreat Costs like Terrakion NVI or Magnezone Prime. After pulling something up with Lampent NVI’s Luring Light, you retreat between 2 Chandelures repeatedly, spreading Cursed Shadow damage around. When trapping doesn’t work, you are sort of playing a poor man’s VVV, using on Confusion from Eerie Glow or status from Iron Breaker to prevent attacks instead of Paralysis. The bright side is you still have Cursed Shadow, which lets you take KOs on your turn and immediately afflict Confusion or Iron Breaker on the newly promoted Pokémon. Cursed Shadow also does nicely to pick off Baby Pokémon for easy prizes.

Speaking of which, I’ve retconned Tropical Beach into both of these lists, since I didn’t have them at the time. In doing so, I wondered if playing Tropical Beach is actually optimal in these decks over more Baby Pokémon. Babies are searchable, can chump-block or stall, and serve as Pokémon Communication fodder. Food for thought about the current Tropical Beach problem!

One final note about these decks: my memory is very fuzzy about the Supporter lines. I remember well which Supporters I played, but not at all what counts. On top of that, I was a Junior. Mess with the Supporters as you please.

HS–NXD

Nobody likes Next Destinies. The release of Mewtwo-EX NXD marks the end of viable setup decks for a long time. It’s hardly an exaggeration to say every deck for the remainder of the 2012 season started with 3 Mewtwo-EX and 4 Double Colorless in their deck, then decided what 53 other cards they wanted to play. And at States, the tournament series follow NXD’s release, literally 90% of people played Zekrom BLW/Eelektrik NVI, which is simply the deck that could best abuse X Ball.

Unfortunately for me, I am a bit of a hipster when it comes to deck choice. Instead of playing the clear BDIF, I went with a Durant NVI Mill deck. I remember needing to go X-1 at States to make top cut, and both games I lost at the first States were to prizing a Durant and my Rotom UD. Being the clever kid that I was, I added a 2nd Rotom UD before the next States, and proceeded to again lose two games to prizing a Durant and both Rotom. Rough times.

Around this time, I actually built the Quad Terrakion deck independently from Curran Hill, but didn’t have the confidence to play it. For those who don’t know, Curran took his list to 1st place at Virginia States.

Quad Terrakion

Pokémon (4)

4 Terrakion NVI

Trainer (45)

4 Professor Juniper

4 Professor Oak’s New Theory

2 Bianca

 

4 Heavy Ball

4 Junk Arm

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Random Receiver

3 Revive

2 Energy Search

2 Lost Remover

2 Switch

1 Defender

1 Energy Retrieval

1 PlusPower

 

4 Exp. Share

 

3 Ruins of Alph

Energy (11)

10 F

1 Rescue

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 4

* 4 Terrakion NVI

##Trainer Cards - 45

* 4 Professor Juniper
* 4 Professor Oak's New Theory HS 101
* 2 Bianca
* 4 Random Receiver
* 4 Exp. Share
* 4 Junk Arm TM 87
* 4 Pokémon Catcher
* 4 Heavy Ball
* 2 Energy Search
* 2 Lost Remover CL 80
* 2 Switch
* 1 Energy Retrieval
* 1 Defender UD 72
* 1 PlusPower BLW 96
* 3 Revive
* 3 Ruins of Alph UD 76

##Energy - 11

* 10 F Energy HS 120
* 1 Rescue Energy TM 90

Total Cards - 60

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This is a list I had saved on an old decklist creator, which I assume is close to the one I would have played. Looking back, I’m kind of impressed with it. I’ll admit that 3 Revive is a bit suspect, since there was Junk Arm to recycle it. Also, the occasional Tornadus EPO hardly justifies 3 Ruins of Alph, but it does serve as a counter Stadium to Skyarrow Bridge. The lack of N was intentional, since this deck was usually ahead on Prizes, but it’s probably low-maintenance enough that 2 N wouldn’t have hurt. Extra Defender and Rescue Energy are probably in order for this list.

Not that any of that matters, because this the format everyone tries to forget.

HS–DEX

The next set on the line was Dark Explorers. Remember how I said Mewtwo was the first card in every deck? Darkrai-EX DEX was similarly oppressive in nature; early Night Spear snipes quickly added up on vulnerable Basics like Tynamo and Oddish, allowing the Big Basic players to get further ahead on Prizes before Evolution decks could set up. The format degenerated, with a very small handful of attackers being viable: Darkrai-EX DEX, Mewtwo-EX NXD, and Terrakion NVI, with Zekrom BLW and Tornadus-EX DEX serving as backup for specific decks.

This time, my hipster tendencies had me refusing to play Darkrai-EX and instead trying to counter it. Looking back, I wonder how much of this decision simply came from shyness—I didn’t like asking my mom to buy cards, and boy Darkrai-EX was expensive. After I pulled a pair of them in prize packs from Nationals, I had no qualms with playing that deck regardless of its popularity. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. I decided I wanted to play Terrakion in my deck to crush the other Juniors, since they copied Masters, who were all playing Darkrai. I also didn’t want to play a Mewtwo-EX deck, but since the only counter to Mewtwo is Mewtwo, I was forced to play a few copies. This is what I came up with, the list that carried me to the finals of US Nationals:

CMT

Pokémon (11)

3 Celebi Prime

3 Terrakion NVI

2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Smeargle UD

1 Shaymin UL

Trainer (39)

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory

 

4 Dual Ball

4 Junk Arm

3 Energy Search

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Random Receiver

3 Switch

2 PlusPower

1 Energy Retrieval

1 Super Rod

 

2 Eviolite

 

3 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy (10)

5 F

5 G

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 11

* 3 Celebi Prime
* 3 Terrakion NVI
* 2 Mewtwo-EX NXD 54
* 2 Smeargle UD 8
* 1 Shaymin UL 8

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 4 Professor Juniper
* 3 Professor Oak's New Theory HS 101
* 3 N
* 4 Dual Ball CL 78
* 4 Junk Arm TM 87
* 3 Switch
* 3 Random Receiver
* 3 Pokémon Catcher
* 3 Energy Search
* 2 PlusPower BLW 96
* 1 Super Rod
* 1 Energy Retrieval
* 2 Eviolite
* 3 Skyarrow Bridge NXD 91

##Energy - 10

* 5 G Energy HS 115
* 5 F Energy HS 120

Total Cards - 60

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That’s right, CMT with no Tornadus or DCE. Those cards would have detracted from my gameplan of using Retaliate or Land Crush every turn, so they hit the bin.

One thing that sticks out to me about this list is the influence from SixPrizes writer Jay Hornung. Yep, back when I was 11, I read SixPrizes Underground articles religiously, and he was my favorite writer. Jay liked to play heavy counts of N, even in his aggressive decks, hence the 3-of in this list. I emailed him my deck a few weeks before Nationals, and he kindly suggested the pair of Eviolites.

After Nationals, I realized that N was one of the weaker Supporters in my deck, especially off Random Receiver in the late game, so I cut one for the 4th PONT. I’m not entirely sure why I played the 3-3 split of Switch and Skyarrow Bridge, but this was corrected to 4-2 before Worlds. Switch is the best card in any CMT deck.

At Worlds, I started 1-1, and lost Round 3 in a very sad manner. I had a hand without much, but it had a Super Rod and a Dual Ball. All I had to do was Dual Ball for a Smeargle and Portrait my way out. Before playing the Dual Ball, I checked my discard pile and confirmed there was only 1 Smeargle in it, and I knew I hadn’t prized any. I play the Dual Ball—1 Heads, good. Search the deck… no Smeargle. What? I check my discard again, and find the phantom Smeargle stuck to the back of another card. Oops. I benched out three turns later. I won out to 5-2, bubbling Top 16 at 19th place. On the bright side, I got some cool-looking Top 32 trophy cards. If you (for some reason) want to play HS–DEX, I highly recommend the above build of CMT with these changes:

Didn’t Alex Play Back Then?

As a Junior and young Senior, I went by the lovely name of “Alex’s Brother.” 2012 Worlds was the event Alex first made a name for himself, going through “the Grinder” with his Terrakion/Eelektrik deck. His run was ended in Game 3 of Top 8, losing to a Turn 1 Night Spear from Dean Nezam.

Terrakion/Eelektrik

Pokémon (16)

4 Tynamo NVI 38

3 Eelektrik NVI

2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

2 Smeargle CL

2 Terrakion NVI

2 Zekrom BLW

1 Shaymin UL

Trainer (32)

4 Professor Juniper

3 Professor Oak’s New Theory

2 N

 

4 Junk Arm

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Dual Ball

2 Level Ball

2 PlusPower

2 Random Receiver

2 Switch

2 Ultra Ball

1 Super Rod

 

1 Eviolite

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy (12)

8 L

4 F

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Tynamo NVI 38
* 3 Eelektrik NVI 40
* 2 Mewtwo-EX NXD 54
* 2 Smeargle CL 21
* 2 Terrakion NVI
* 2 Zekrom BLW
* 1 Shaymin UL 8

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 4 Professor Juniper
* 3 Professor Oak's New Theory HS 101
* 2 N
* 4 Junk Arm TM 87
* 3 Pokémon Catcher
* 2 Switch
* 2 Random Receiver
* 2 Ultra Ball
* 2 Level Ball
* 2 Dual Ball UL 72
* 2 PlusPower UL 80
* 1 Super Rod
* 1 Eviolite
* 2 Skyarrow Bridge NXD 91

##Energy - 12

* 4 F Energy HS 120
* 8 L Energy HS 118

Total Cards - 60

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Alex’s deck had basically the same philosophy as mine, but with a different supporting Pokémon. The cost of playing the Stage 1 Eelektrik is made up for with a solid backup attacker, Zekrom BLW. The only thing I might change from this list is adding an Energy Search. Alex insists the 1 Eviolite is busted.

BLW–DRX

Ah, rotation. No longer could Shaymin UL be used to power up a Mewtwo-EX and 1HKO everything. In addition, new threats of Rayquaza-EX DRX and Sigilyph DRX threatened Mewtwo. His oppression on the format loosened.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this format, but I remember it feeling pretty bland, like UPR–CEC for me. I’ll leave this Hammertime list for anybody interested; I used it to get 2nd at my first Regionals as a Senior. It is notably weak to Terrakion since it doesn’t play PlusPower.

Hammertime

Pokémon (6)

3 Darkrai-EX DEX

3 Sableye DEX

Trainer (44)

4 N

4 Professor Juniper

2 Bianca

 

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Dark Patch

4 Energy Switch

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Ultra Ball

3 Max Potion

3 Random Receiver

2 Energy Search

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Tool Scrapper

 

2 Eviolite

Energy (10)

10 D

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 6

* 3 Darkrai-EX DEX 63
* 3 Sableye DEX 62

##Trainer Cards - 44

* 4 Professor Juniper
* 4 N
* 2 Bianca
* 4 Crushing Hammer
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 4 Pokémon Catcher
* 4 Dark Patch DEX 93
* 4 Energy Switch
* 3 Max Potion
* 3 Random Receiver
* 2 Enhanced Hammer
* 2 Tool Scrapper
* 2 Energy Search
* 2 Eviolite

##Energy - 10

* 10 D Energy BLWEnergy 111

Total Cards - 60

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BLW–BCR

The second set of the season used to mark the time for City Championships, which are now League Cups, except they all happened in a two-month span. I maxed out Cities points each year that they existed, so I have the most and fondest memories for this part of each year. My nostalgia glasses might be blinding me here, but do I remember this format being fairly diverse and fun. Not the greatest old format, but underappreciated.

I started off by playing a Darkrai deck with DCE attackers, then switched to a Darkrai/Hydreigon deck, which was better for our meta of Blastoise/Keldeo-EX and Darkrai variants.

Darkrai/DCE Attackers

Pokémon (11)

3 Darkrai-EX DEX

3 Sableye DEX

2 Bouffalant DRX

2 Mewtwo-EX NXD

1 Tornadus-EX DEX

Trainer (37)

4 Professor Juniper

3 Bianca

3 N

 

4 Dark Patch

4 Energy Switch

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Ultra Ball

2 Random Receiver

1 Energy Search

1 Tool Scrapper

 

3 Eviolite

 

1 Computer Search

 

3 Aspertia City Gym

Energy (12)

8 D

4 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 11

* 3 Darkrai-EX DEX 63
* 3 Sableye DEX 62
* 2 Bouffalant DRX 110
* 2 Mewtwo-EX NXD 54
* 1 Tornadus-EX DEX 90

##Trainer Cards - 37

* 4 Professor Juniper
* 3 N
* 3 Bianca
* 4 Pokémon Catcher
* 4 Dark Patch DEX 93
* 4 Energy Switch
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 2 Random Receiver
* 1 Tool Scrapper
* 1 Energy Search
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 3 Eviolite
* 3 Aspertia City Gym BCR 127

##Energy - 12

* 8 D Energy BLWEnergy 111
* 4 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92

Total Cards - 60

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I loved tanking with Bouffalant. The Terrakion player within me loves trading up with my non-Pokémon-EX, and it’s especially satisfying when your non-EX survives an attack like X Ball or Keldeo-EX’s Secret Sword. With 4 Energy Switch, this list probably would have benefitted from a Max Potion.

Darkrai/Hydreigon

Pokémon (16)

4 Deino DRX 93

1 Zweilous DRX 96

3 Hydreigon DRX 97

3 Darkrai-EX DEX

3 Sableye DEX

1 Cresselia-EX

1 Keldeo-EX

Trainer (32)

4 N

4 Professor Juniper

1 Bianca

 

4 Max Potion

4 Rare Candy

4 Ultra Ball

3 Dark Patch

3 Pokémon Catcher

1 Random Receiver

1 Tool Scrapper

 

2 Dark Claw

 

1 Computer Search

Energy (12)

8 D

4 Blend GRPD

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Deino DRX 93
* 1 Zweilous DRX 96
* 3 Hydreigon DRX 97
* 3 Darkrai-EX DEX 63
* 3 Sableye DEX 62
* 1 Cresselia-EX
* 1 Keldeo-EX BCR 49

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 4 Max Potion
* 4 Rare Candy
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 2 Dark Claw DEX 92
* 3 Pokémon Catcher
* 4 N
* 3 Dark Patch DEX 93
* 1 Random Receiver
* 4 Professor Juniper
* 1 Tool Scrapper
* 1 Bianca

##Energy - 12

* 4 Blend Energy GRPD DEX 117
* 8 D Energy BLWEnergy 111

Total Cards - 60

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I’m beginning to think Max Potion was my favorite card back in the day! This list is standard for the time, save my brilliant addition of Cresselia-EX as a Mewtwo counter. Psychic Protection let you 1HKO Mewtwo and removed your Weakness, so they couldn’t 1HKO you back! Unless they had 5 Energy. Or 2 Catchers to reset Psychic Protection. Maybe it wasn’t brilliant.

By the end of Cities, the Seniors meta was flooded with Blastoise/Keldeo. My good friend Michael Catron recruited me to help test his counter-meta deck, Cobalion/Mewtwo/Garbodor.

Cobalion/Mewtwo/Garbodor

Pokémon (13)

4 Trubbish NVI

3 Garbodor DRX

3 Cobalion NVI

3 Mewtwo-EX NXD

Trainer (35)

4 Cheren

4 N

4 Professor Juniper

 

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

4 Ultra Ball

3 PlusPower

 

4 Exp. Share

3 Rocky Helmet

 

1 Computer Search

Energy (12)

8 M

4 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 13

* 4 Trubbish NVI 48
* 3 Garbodor DRX 54
* 3 Cobalion NVI
* 3 Mewtwo-EX NXD 54

##Trainer Cards - 35

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 4 Pokémon Catcher
* 3 PlusPower BLW 96
* 4 N
* 3 Rocky Helmet
* 4 Cheren EPO 91
* 4 Professor Juniper
* 4 Exp. Share
* 4 Switch

##Energy - 12

* 8 M Energy BLWEnergy 112
* 4 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92

Total Cards - 60

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Isn’t it funny looking at the Pokémon lines from decks back then? There were no support Pokémon like Jirachi TEU or Dedenne-GX. You literally just played the ‘mons that were in the name of your deck.

Anyway, this was Catron’s creation to take down Blastoise. Nobody else played Garbodor, so most Blastoise decks only played 1 Tool Scrapper. In addition, they relied on Keldeo-EX’s Rush In for switching, meaning you could stick Iron Breaker status or Catcher-stall a 4-Retreat turtle extremely easily.

Funnily enough, my main attacker in that matchup was Trubbish: I would sit there and Garbage Collection for Cheren to build my hand as I set up Mewtwos on the Bench. If they attached to their Benched attackers, I could Catcher and X Ball them or just Garbage Collection until they deck out. If they attached to the Active Blastoise, I would wait until they committed 3 Energy, then 2HKO it with Iron Breaker.

Michael was brought down by an unfortunate judge call on his win-and-in, and I brought the deck to the finals, losing to my friend Beau LeBlond and his Ho-Oh-EX DRX deck. 12-year-old me took a while to forgive him for his godly Rebirth flips.

BLW–PLS

Like the reverse of Cities formats, I never did well at States. But, I don’t think it’s just from sour memories to say this format was bad. The only immediately good cards to come out of Plasma Storm were Hypnotoxic Laser, Virbank City Gym, and Black Kyurem-EX PLS. The format simply became more Big Basic-y and more Mewtwo Wars-centric than before. After failing to make Landorus-EX/Mewtwo work for me in States, I switched to something that made me feel more at home: a controlling Max Potion deck.

Klinklang

Pokémon (14)

4 Klink DEX

1 Klang DEX

2 Klinklang BLW

2 Klinklang PLS

2 Cobalion NVI

2 Cobalion-EX

1 Durant DRX

Trainer (36)

4 N

4 Professor Juniper

3 Skyla

1 Colress

 

4 Heavy Ball

4 Rare Candy

3 Max Potion

3 Pokémon Catcher

3 Switch

2 Level Ball

1 Escape Rope

1 Super Rod

 

1 Dowsing Machine

 

2 Tropical Beach

Energy (10)

10 M

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 4 Klink DEX 75
* 1 Klang DEX 76
* 2 Klinklang BLW 76
* 2 Klinklang PLS 90
* 2 Cobalion NVI
* 2 Cobalion-EX PLS 93
* 1 Durant DRX 83

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 3 Max Potion
* 3 Skyla
* 4 Rare Candy
* 3 Pokémon Catcher
* 1 Super Rod
* 1 Escape Rope
* 2 Tropical Beach PR-BLW 50
* 4 N
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 4 Heavy Ball
* 4 Professor Juniper
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 2 Level Ball
* 3 Switch

##Energy - 10

* 10 M Energy BLWEnergy 112

Total Cards - 60

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The idea of this deck is to block out Pokémon-EX with PlasmaKlang (Klinklang PLS) and take out all enemy non-EXs with help from Klinklang BLW and Max Potion. Drawing influence from my previous deck, I ran a Durant DRX to recover resources. Like Garbage Collection before it, Pull Out might have been the attack I used the most over Georgia Regionals. I made special care to always have the Durant, a Super Rod, or Dowsing Machine—abusing infinite resources was key with this deck.

I lost one round in Swiss to a RayEels deck with the V-Create Victini, a card that mercilessly solos this deck. After scooping my brother into Top 16 in the last round and beating him in Top 4, I found myself the finals of the last Regionals of the season. Could I finally secure a victory?

I’m up against somebody named Grant Manley, a person I’d never heard of before, so surely it would be easy. Plus, he’s playing a Big Basic deck, with just 2 Bouffalant DRX as his non-EXs. Cake.

I beat him pretty convincingly in Game 1, then got my Klink donked in Game 2. Game 3 came down to the wire. See, Grant had the foresight to play Giant Cape over Eviolite, specifically so my Cobalion-EX couldn’t 1HKO his Bouffalant with Steel Bullet, meaning they went much further than I was prepared for. No worries, though, I took down his 2nd Bouffalant with a clean Cobalion-EX before he could take his last Prize card. The only possible way for him to take the last one is his 4th Hypnotoxic Laser. He knows this, I know it. He plays the Laser, heads. Pass, I take 30 from Poison + Virbank City Gym. Roll for Sleep, tails.

I draw a shiny Cobalion-EX and check my discard pile. 3 Switch, 1 Escape Rope, 3 Max Potion, Dowsing Machine, both Tropical Beach. I count my deck, two more cards. No biggie. Pass, roll for Sleep, tails. He sends it back: roll for Sleep, tails. I’m at 90 damage. The only playable card in my hand is a Professor Juniper. Pass, roll for Sleep, tails. I’m sweating. We’re the only people left in the hall except our parents, my brother, and one poor judge and TO. It’s 8:00 PM and my mom needs to drive halfway to Virginia as soon as I’m done. He passes. 150 damage, roll for Sleep… heads! I draw the last card in my deck, retreat to Durant, and use Pull Out on a Super Rod. Grant concedes. Heh, got that chump, doubt I’ll ever see him again!

web.archive.orgHere’s another little story. After winning Georgia Regionals, I did a phone interview with Pokémon, which was released on Pokémon.com. In it, I talked a bit about the upcoming Plasma Freeze set, so they included a picture of Deoxys-EX. Strangely, the image they used incorrectly worded Helix Force as doing 30 + 20 damage for each Energy. [Editor’s note: This image has since been corrected.] For reasons I don’t know, Pokémon has since cleared a lot of their old news posts, including my interview, burying this mistake forever. [Editor’s note: I was able to unearth this lost interview by searching through archive.org.]

BLW–PLF

In Plasma Freeze, Pokémon decided to print Team Plasma cards that you could actually put in your deck! Plasma was the big question going into Nationals, with only a few League Challenges of results to go off of. For that specific series of events leading up to Nationals, a primitive attacking stall deck arose, the infamous Quad Snorlax. The deck played no Energy, and only 4 Snorlax PLS. The idea was to never let your opponent retreat, since Block was always going to be active, and take all 6 Prize cards with Hypnotoxic Laser’s Poison damage. This is probably the most disgusting display of Trainer-based Pokémon in the entire BLW era.

Quad Snorlax

Pokémon (4)

4 Snorlax PLS

Trainer (56)

4 Cheren

4 Shadow Triad

4 Skyla

3 N

2 Professor Juniper

 

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Max Potion

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Recycle

4 Super Scoop Up

3 Enhanced Hammer

2 Heavy Ball

2 Revive

 

3 Eviolite

 

1 Dowsing Machine

 

4 Virbank City Gym

Energy (0)

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 4

* 4 Snorlax PLS 101

##Trainer Cards - 56

* 2 Professor Juniper
* 2 Revive
* 4 Super Scoop Up
* 4 Cheren EPO 91
* 4 Crushing Hammer
* 4 Max Potion
* 4 Pokémon Catcher
* 4 Recycle EPO 96
* 3 Eviolite
* 3 N
* 2 Heavy Ball
* 3 Enhanced Hammer
* 4 Skyla
* 4 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 4 Virbank City Gym PLS 126
* 1 Dowsing Machine PLS 128
* 4 Shadow Triad PLF 102

##Energy - 0

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81155 ******

Thankfully, fear of Gothitelle EPO 47 decks plus increased Keldeo-EX counts scared this monstrosity away from US Nationals.

Plasma

Pokémon (11)

4 Deoxys-EX

3 Kyurem PLF

2 Thundurus-EX PLF

1 Absol PLF

1 Lugia-EX PLS

Trainer (36)

4 N

4 Professor Juniper

3 Colress

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Pokémon Catcher

4 Switch

3 Colress Machine

2 Random Receiver

2 Team Plasma Ball

2 Ultra Ball

1 Max Potion

 

1 Scramble Switch

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy (13)

4 Blend WLFM

4 Plasma

4 Prism

1 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 11

* 4 Deoxys-EX
* 3 Kyurem PLF 31
* 2 Thundurus-EX PLF 38
* 1 Absol PLF 67
* 1 Lugia-EX PLS

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 1 Max Potion
* 1 Scramble Switch PLS 129
* 2 Ultra Ball
* 3 Colress Machine PLS 119
* 4 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 4 Pokémon Catcher
* 2 Team Plasma Ball PLF 105
* 2 Virbank City Gym PLS 126
* 4 N
* 3 Colress PLS 118
* 2 Random Receiver
* 4 Professor Juniper
* 4 Switch

##Energy - 13

* 1 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92
* 4 Prism Energy NXD 93
* 4 Blend Energy WLFM DRX 118
* 4 Plasma Energy PLF 106

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81155 ******

I used this list to get Top 8 at Nationals, losing to Sam Hough’s Darkrai deck, and again Worlds, losing my win-and-in to… Sam Hough and his Darkrai deck. I think the deck is totally perfect except for the lack of Float Stone. See, my testing partner and I concluded that Keldeo-EX isn’t worth the Bench space in Plasma—an opinion I stand by—but for some reason we thought of Keldeo + Float Stone as a package. That was definitely a tunnel-vision moment that I needed to learn from. 2013 Worlds runner-up said he was going to play a 2-2 line until the night before, so this monstrous 4 Switch should probably swap to that.

You can read about my Top 64 match at Nationals from the other side here. I remember theorying out the RayEels matchup, determining how to play the matchup based on how the opponent managed their Bench. They needed 3 Eelektrik NVI, a Rayquaza-EX DRX, and a Keldeo-EX + Float Stone. If they used the 6th Bench spot on an extra Rayquaza-EX, you target down their Eels with Kyurem PLF’s Frost Spear; if they put down a Mr. Mime PLF instead, you can N them low and KO the Rayquaza-EX.

My brother’s fortune at the end of 2013 wasn’t much better than mine. In Top 16 at Nationals, he lost to a known cheater (who was DQ’d and banned at Worlds 2013), and lost Game 3 of Top 32 at Worlds to some poor draw luck.


And thus concluded my 2013 season, ending with a record of 1245 Championship Points. Four-digit Championship Point numbers are pretty common at the top of the leaderboards these days, but this was back when there were just three Regionals each year, so I still consider it my biggest accomplishment in Seniors. One day I’ll have a season like this again.

Conclusion

After 2013, I subscribed more to the “invite and chill” lifestyle. I made sure to always play decks I enjoyed (read: homebrewed), for better or for worse, as my interest in the game waned. For this reason, the next few seasons are more blurred together in my memory, dropped events and failed rogue decks intentionally forgotten. In my next article sometime next month, I’ll do my best to recollect these seasons of decline, my occasional pops back into the game, and the eventual rebirth in late 2018. I already have 13 lists planned for that article, spanning 10 different formats, so I’m certainly excited.

I do hope you got something out of this article, be it history, retro deck ideas, or simple entertainment. Most of my Twitter feed is talking about old formats at this point; this was meant to feed some of that old format hype for others, as well as satiating my own desire to play these decks.

Personally, I’m using the lack of events this summer as an opportunity to take a few classes. I figure, the more I do now, the less I’ll have to do during prime Pokémon season. Whether you’re working, learning, or chilling this summer, I hope you’re enjoying the slow-paced life and warm weather. It looks likes things are beginning to ease up, so just remember that it won’t last.

-Jonathan


…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.

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