Punch of Toad, and Arrow of Owl

The Quiet Days and Second Wind of My Pokémon Career, Including the Most Unbalanced Decks I’ve Played, from 2013–2014 to Now
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Remember the good old days? Like, when Quad Seismitoad-EX with Lysandre’s Trump Card was legal? Or when you could combo Red Card + Delinquent + Peeking Red Card? Or when the year wasn’t 2020?

You never know when times are good until they pass. I am, of course, talking about old Pokémon formats. Time slips by and suddenly all you have are glimpses in your memory, never the full picture. Of course, most of the things you forget are totally mundane like what you had to eat the morning of an event. Nonetheless, the blank spaces are what makes nostalgia so, so sweet.

Today I’ll be covering what I can remember of the decks I played from the start of the 2013–2014 season and onward. There are a few decks that I left out because I know I’ve played them but have no earthly clue how the lists looked. Keep in mind that I don’t necessarily think these decks were perfect—and if I do, I’ll make sure you know it’s the uncontested best list ever.

NXD–PLB

Ah, where were we? After 2013 Worlds, BLW, EPO, NVI, and DRV were rotated. Since the early Black & White sets started off slow, and because power creep really ramped up started at NXD, very few important cards were lost to this rotation. In addition, several of the powerful cards had already been reprinted: Terrakion got a secret rare in BCR; EPO Item powerhouses Pokémon Catcher and Max Potion got theirs in DEX and PLF; and the staple supporters Professor Juniper and N were spared too. The main exceptions were Eelektrik NVI and Crushing Hammer.

Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX PLB was the big story of PLB. Players were testing to figure out if Team Plasma Badge was worth including to potentially turn one Emerald Slash, and some lists ran Lugia-EX PLS and Drifblim DRX/Enhanced Hammer. Outside of VG, though, it is one of those regrettable Black & White sets with good cards that you can count on one hand. Silver Bangle made it easier for Plasma players to hit 170–180 damage with Kyurem PLF, but Silver Mirror posed a serious threat to them. Silver Mirror wouldn’t serve to seriously fend off Plasma until players figured out the Trubbish PLS 65/Sigilyph PLB deck.

facebook.comThe first tournament of the season actually wasn’t sanctioned—it was a community-run event. Celebrating his third World Championship victory, Jason Klaczynski organized his Klaczynski Open. This tournament was way ahead of its time, featuring entry fees (all Pokémon tournaments used to be free), Bo3, and a Top 8 cut. Unlike modern events, however, each round was 75 minutes and matches were played to conclusion. The finals match was an untimed Best of Five.

Jason was expecting low turnout from the younger players, and so combined them into one division, but also gave kids the option to play with the Masters. The idea was that they might want better competition or practice. As it turned out, a handful did, and every kid that decided to play with the Masters made Top 8. Eventual National Champion Ishaan Jagiasi, my brother, and I lost in Top 8, and Lex D’Andrea beat Ross Cawthon in the grueling Bo5 finals.

Darkrai/Garbodor

Pokémon (11)

3 Trubbish DRX

2 Garbodor PLF

3 Darkrai-EX DEX

3 Sableye DEX

Trainer (39)

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

2 Bianca

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Ultra Ball

3 Dark Patch

3 Pokémon Catcher

2 Random Receiver

2 Switch

1 Energy Search

1 Max Potion

1 Super Rod

1 Tool Scrapper

 

3 Float Stone

2 Dark Claw

 

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy (10)

10 D

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 11

* 3 Trubbish DRX 53
* 2 Garbodor PLF 119
* 3 Darkrai-EX DEX 63
* 3 Sableye DEX 62

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Max Potion
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 2 Dark Claw DEX 92
* 3 N DEX 96
* 4 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 1 Super Rod
* 3 Pokémon Catcher
* 2 Virbank City Gym PLS 126
* 4 Professor Juniper DEX 98
* 3 Float Stone PLF 99
* 3 Dark Patch DEX 93
* 1 Energy Search BCR 128
* 2 Random Receiver
* 1 Tool Scrapper
* 2 Bianca
* 2 Switch

##Energy - 10

* 10 D Energy BLWEnergy 111

Total Cards - 60

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I lost in Game 3 of Top 8 to Henry Prior’s Virizion/Genesect deck. More accurately, I lost to myself. He had taken 5 Prizes with his Lugia-EX PLS, and I was going to N and take over the game with crucial KOs. Sadly, I played one too many cards before playing the N and drew all 6 cards remaining in my deck. He allowed me to backtrack a bit to see if I would have won, and indeed, he didn’t topdeck anything useful for the next few turns. Oh well. I also remember getting in a heated debate that match; both Henry and the judge, Chris Fulop, were convinced Sleep turns the Active Pokémon to the right.

I recall being somewhat jealous that Lex won the event. Not because I deserved it, I knew I didn’t, but because I was sure my list was superior. Lex played two Enhanced Hammer, which I found to be mostly useless. It just ended up being easier to KO the Pokémon with Energy than to whittle with Hammers. I ran the third Trubbish and a Max Potion instead, which made the deck more consistent and resilient.

NXD–LTR

Legendary Treasures was a reprint set, and that’s pretty much all there is to say about it. The aforementioned Crushing Hammer was reprinted but was left mostly unplayed, Energy Switch found its way into Virizion/Genesect, and Spiritomb LTR gave decks a somewhat better Virizion/Genesect matchup.

My memory of the Cities marathon this year is sadly quite blurred. I remember playing an Emboar deck just because I opened 2 Emboar LTR from prize packs. At the New Year’s Eve Cities, I played a Crustle BCR/Reuniclus DRX/Serperior LTR 8/Virizion-EX deck for fun—I went 2-3, but managed to get a VG player to try to G Booster through Sturdy, so it was a success. Tool Drop was the deck I earned the most points with.

Tool Drop

Pokémon (15)

3 Voltorb PLF

3 Electrode PLF

1 Surskit PLB

1 Masquerain PLB

4 Trubbish PLS 65

3 Sigilyph PLB

Trainer (38)

4 N

2 Professor Juniper

 

4 Bicycle

4 Level Ball

4 Poké Ball

3 Pokémon Catcher

1 Super Rod

 

4 Exp. Share

3 Float Stone

3 Rescue Scarf

3 Silver Mirror

2 Silver Bangle

 

1 Life Dew

Energy (7)

7 P

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 15

* 3 Voltorb PLF 32
* 3 Electrode PLF 33
* 1 Surskit PLB 1
* 1 Masquerain PLB 2
* 4 Trubbish PLS 65
* 3 Sigilyph PLB 41

##Trainer Cards - 38

* 4 Bicycle PLS 117
* 2 Silver Bangle PLB 88
* 4 N DEX 96
* 4 Poké Ball BCR 131
* 3 Rescue Scarf DRX 115
* 1 Super Rod
* 2 Professor Juniper DEX 98
* 3 Float Stone PLF 99
* 4 Level Ball
* 1 Life Dew PLF 107
* 4 Exp. Share
* 3 Silver Mirror PLB 89
* 3 Pokémon Catcher

##Energy - 7

* 7 P Energy BLWEnergy 109

Total Cards - 60

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My want to beat Team Plasma decks (including VG) evolved into this monstrosity. The key of this deck is making it as fast and consistent as possible. To do so, I maximized reliance on Electrode and cut out potential hand-filling cards like heavy Supporters.

NXD–XY

XY was a huge power creep set, particularly in the Trainers: Muscle Band, Professor’s Letter, Team Flare Grunt, Roller Skates, and Hard Charm. The Pokémon were no slouchers, either—Yveltal-EX did 20 more than Mewtwo-EX NXD with better typing, and Aromatisse XY and Trevenant XY were Stage 1 versions of Hydreigon DRX 97 and Gothitelle LTR. In addition to a powerful set, the game was shaken up by the coin flip errata to Pokémon Catcher. To top it all off, at the release of XY, players could no longer attack on the first turn of the game.

XY marked the beginning of my declining interest in the game. After this point, I’ll have to start skipping around and neglecting what the rest of the format was like. I can only remember the decks I played and my experiences playing them.

VG

Pokémon (12)

2 Roselia DRX 12

2 Roserade DRX 15

4 Genesect-EX PLB

4 Virizion-EX

Trainer (34)

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

3 Skyla

2 Shadow Triad

 

3 Energy Switch

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Level Ball

2 Potion

2 Tool Scrapper

2 Ultra Ball

1 Professor’s Letter

1 Town Map

 

4 Muscle Band

 

1 G Booster

 

2 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy (14)

10 G

4 Plasma

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 12

* 2 Roselia DRX 12
* 2 Roserade DRX 15
* 4 Genesect-EX PLB 11
* 4 Virizion-EX PLB 9

##Trainer Cards - 34

* 1 G Booster PLB 92
* 3 Skyla
* 1 Professor’s Letter XY 123
* 2 Skyarrow Bridge NXD 91
* 2 Shadow Triad PLF 102
* 2 Ultra Ball
* 3 N DEX 96
* 2 Potion BCR 132
* 4 Professor Juniper DEX 98
* 1 Town Map BCR 136
* 2 Enhanced Hammer
* 4 Muscle Band XY 121
* 2 Tool Scrapper
* 2 Level Ball
* 3 Energy Switch LTR 112

##Energy - 14

* 4 Plasma Energy PLB 91
* 10 G Energy BLWEnergy 105

Total Cards - 60

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During the Klaczynski Open, my brother (always more social than me) made friends with some of the prominent Masters players. Alex talked to Michael Pramawat a lot during States as well, since they were both playing Blastoise BCR decks. The two of us hitched a ride with Pram and Ben Potter to the last Regionals of the year in Toronto. Looking back, it was a miracle Alex managed to convince those two, our mother, and Canada customs to let us go with them.

I knew I wanted to play VG because Pokémon Catcher was unreliable, but I still wanted to play 3 Pokémon Catcher in the deck. Luckily for me, Ben told me in a nice way that I was a stupid Senior and needed to play his list with Roserade and 2 Potion. I won the event.

Klaczynski rode back with us and made a surprising amount of poop jokes.


At Nationals I played a Plasma deck which I have basically no memory of, save playing a Heatran-EX for VG. According to my pokemon.com player history, I got 23/295. Neat. At Worlds, both Alex and I played Blastoise. You can find his runner-up list here. I think our lists were just 3 cards different, I played 3 Ultra Ball, 3 Level Ball, 1 Heavy Ball and swapped the Pokémon Catcher for a Lysandre. My event was unfortunately cut short by two Garbodor decks; in all four games I played against Garbodor, I prized 2/3 of Startling Megaphone and Dowsing Machine. Still, when I think about that event, I’m proud of Alex and not bitter about my performance.

Alex had an interesting Top 4 match against Grant Manley and his unique Big Basics deck. I don’t know all the details, but essentially, both of them were drawing poorly in a very close matchup. Grant teched a Druddigon FLF specifically for us Croxton bros but managed to start it both games.

One evening of Worlds 2014, I wandered into a room where FFI prereleases were being held and looked at the new cards. Hmm, this Seismitoad-EX card looks good. I bought a playset for $60 and played them for nearly all of 2015.

BCR–PHF

Straight Donphan

Pokémon (12)

4 Phanpy PLS

4 Donphan PLS

4 Hawlucha FFI

Trainer (37)

4 Korrina

4 Professor Juniper

2 Lysandre

1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

 

4 Robo Substitute

4 VS Seeker

2 Battle Compressor

2 Level Ball

1 Heavy Ball

1 Professor’s Letter

 

4 Focus Sash

4 Muscle Band

 

1 Computer Search

 

3 Fighting Stadium

Energy (11)

6 F

4 Strong

1 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 12

* 4 Phanpy PLS 71
* 4 Donphan PLS 72
* 4 Hawlucha FFI 63

##Trainer Cards - 37

* 3 Fighting Stadium FFI 90
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 1 Professor’s Letter XY 123
* 4 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 1 Lysandre’s Trump Card PHF 118
* 4 Robo Substitute Team Flare Gear PHF 102
* 2 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 4 Focus Sash FFI 91
* 1 Heavy Ball
* 2 Lysandre FLF 104
* 4 Korrina FFI 111
* 4 Muscle Band XY 121
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 2 Level Ball

##Energy - 11

* 4 Strong Energy FFI 104
* 1 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92
* 6 F Energy BLWEnergy 110

Total Cards - 60

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I wanted to show off this deck because I think it’s the best way to play Donphan. See, most Donphan decks around this time played walls like Suicune PLB and Float Stones. I found that most walls were too situational to be worth the space for Float Stones. In addition, if you start with a wall, you must find a Float Stone as another piece before you can start attacking. Focusing instead on Hawlucha FFI + Focus Sash as your go-to wall made it easier to consistently attack turn two (or one with Hawlucha), and it opens up space to focus on recycling Robo Substitutes with Lysandre’s Trump Card.

Quad Toad

Pokémon (4)

4 Seismitoad-EX

Trainer (52)

3 Professor Juniper

2 Lysandre’s Trump Card

1 Lysandre

1 N

 

4 Acro Bike

4 Battle Compressor

4 Crushing Hammer

4 Roller Skates

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 VS Seeker

3 Bicycle

3 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Super Scoop Up

2 Ultra Ball

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Startling Megaphone

 

3 Muscle Band

2 Head Ringer

 

1 Computer Search

 

2 Virbank City Gym

Energy (4)

4 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 4

* 4 Seismitoad-EX FFI 106

##Trainer Cards - 52

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 3 Bicycle PLS 117
* 4 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 4 Crushing Hammer
* 2 Ultra Ball
* 4 Acro Bike PRC 122
* 2 Lysandre’s Trump Card PHF 118
* 3 Super Scoop Up FFI 100
* 4 Roller Skates XY 125
* 3 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 1 Startling Megaphone FLF 97
* 4 Battle Compressor Team Flare Gear PHF 92
* 2 Virbank City Gym PLS 126
* 1 N
* 2 Head Ringer PHF 97
* 1 Lysandre FLF 104
* 1 Enhanced Hammer
* 3 Muscle Band XY 121
* 3 Professor Juniper
* 4 VS Seeker PHF 109

##Energy - 4

* 4 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92

Total Cards - 60

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Quad Toad—a disgusting, degenerate, masterpiece of a deck. The idea is simply to spam Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, and Head Ringer with Lysandre’s Trump Card while denying Dark Patch, Mega Turbo, and Tool Scrapper with Quaking Punch. The engine is fast enough to go through your deck every other turn, so you alternate playing Lysandre’s Trump Card and Professor Juniper/N. This strategy carried me and Jason Klaczynski to winning Georgia Regionals, after which Lysandre’s Trump Card was banned. I remember hearing judges remarking how blatantly unfair my deck was between rounds and even during my games.

This list is different from other Toad decks (like Jason’s) because it doesn’t play Shaymin-EX ROS. This is for mirror, because having anything other than Toads on your field puts you at risk of Lysandre. If they trap you for just one turn and prevent a Quaking Punch, you will get Head Ringered and Hammered and will not attack for the rest of the game. (For this reason, it is optimal to choose second with this deck. Your guys attack for 1 Energy and can’t evolve, so there is no benefit to going first.)

At this point I should say the above list isn’t exactly my original, which played AZ, Pokémon Center Lady, and a Tool Retriever instead of the Super Scoop Ups. Again, I was very concerned with winning the Toad mirror, and Tools were a big part of that. By going second, I could remove Head Ringers on my board with Tool Retriever, Megaphone good Tools the opponent had, and apply my own Head Ringers at will. (That whole sequence actually happened in one game at Georgia.) I now realize that I could have relied on Super Scoop Up to remove Head Ringers, while still being useful for healing later on.

That said, playing AZ and PCL was still kind of optimal. See, Georgia Regionals was played in an awkward transition period where Pokémon was first trying out the Expanded format. Day 1 was played BCR–PHF, and players could switch their decks to play BLW–PHF in Day 2. Of course, most people didn’t change decks entirely because they just had success in Day 1, plus the amount of relevant cards in the Expanded sets was rather small. So, in Day 2, the only change I made was swapping the awkward Startling Megaphone and Tool Retriever for Tool Scrappers. When you can play Tool Scrappers as a way of peeling off Head Ringers, Super Scoop Ups lose their luster.

Not too long ago I posted this list on Twitter and got some responses from people who had apparently come up with Quad Toad independently. They thought 4 Juniper, 1 Lysandre’s Trump Card, and some Random Receiver was the way to go. I think this is a huge oversight, mainly on the power of Battle Compressor. Full playsets of Battle Compressor, VS Seeker, Trainers’ Mail, etc. meant I always found a Juniper when I needed it anyway. Also, deck thinning with Battle Compressor has the effect of drawing you cards. If you’ve ever played a deckbuilding game like Dominion, you know exactly what I mean. Each Supporter, Virbank, and spare DCE you bin is another Crushing Hammer that you will draw. Finally, tailoring Supporters to Random Receiver means cutting some of the most impactful disruption cards in your deck, namely N and Lysandre. Going down to 1 Lysandre’s Trump Card means you will flat out lose roughly 10% of your games to Prizes, since you can’t win without recycling disruption cards.

BCR–ROS

Toad/Dusknoir/Malamar

Pokémon (14)

4 Seismitoad-EX

2 Duskull FLF

2 Dusclops BCR

2 Dusknoir BCR

2 Malamar-EX

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainer (36)

4 Professor Juniper

3 N

1 Colress

1 Lysandre

1 Pokémon Center Lady

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Ultra Ball

3 Trainers’ Mail

3 VS Seeker

1 Town Map

 

4 Float Stone

3 Muscle Band

 

1 Rock Guard

 

3 Virbank City Gym

Energy (10)

6 D

4 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 4 Seismitoad-EX FFI 106
* 2 Duskull FLF 38
* 2 Dusclops BCR 62
* 2 Dusknoir BCR 63
* 2 Malamar-EX PHF 58
* 1 Keldeo-EX LTR 45
* 1 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 3 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 4 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90
* 4 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 3 Virbank City Gym PLS 126
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 4 Float Stone PLF 99
* 1 Pokémon Center Lady FLF 105
* 1 Lysandre FLF 104
* 1 Town Map BCR 136
* 3 Muscle Band XY 121
* 1 Rock Guard PLF 108
* 3 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 3 N DEX 96

##Energy - 10

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

Total Cards - 60

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I didn’t give up on Toad—and neither did Jason—after Trump Card was banned. This deck was meant to take the best part of Toad, which is leaving things Asleep with Hypnotoxic Laser, and abuse it as much as possible. Dusknoir’s Sinister Hand makes sure you don’t accidentally do too much damage and KO something going into your opponent’s turn, and Malamar-EX’s Hyper Hypnosis gives you more chances to leave opponents Asleep. If needed, you can use your built-up Malamar to sweep with MAXamar. Plus, I got to use Rock Guard. How cool is that?

Unfortunately, Nationals 2015 is when everybody figured out M Manectric-EX with 4 Rough Seas is really good. I believe I made the Top 32 cut but went 1-4 in Day 2.

Worlds 2015 was to be my last tournament, and the amount of effort I put into testing reflected that. I played a M Rayquaza-EX/Bronzong PHF deck and have zero memory of the event. I put down the cards so I could do better in sophomore year of high school…

XY–FCO

Water Box

Pokémon (11)

3 Seismitoad-EX

2 Manaphy-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Articuno ROS 17

1 Glaceon-EX

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

1 Regice AOR

Trainer (37)

4 N

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Lysandre

1 Delinquent

1 Hex Maniac

1 Karen

 

4 Max Elixir

4 Ultra Ball

3 Trainers’ Mail

3 VS Seeker

2 Energy Switch

1 Startling Megaphone

 

2 Exp. Share

2 Fighting Fury Belt

 

3 Rough Seas

Energy (12)

12 W

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 11

* 3 Seismitoad-EX FFI 20
* 2 Manaphy-EX BKP 32
* 2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
* 1 Articuno ROS 17
* 1 Glaceon-EX FCO 116
* 1 Hoopa-EX AOR 36
* 1 Regice AOR 24

##Trainer Cards - 37

* 3 Rough Seas PRC 137
* 3 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 1 Startling Megaphone FLF 97
* 1 Karen PR-XY 177
* 4 Ultra Ball FLF 99
* 4 Max Elixir BKP 102
* 2 Energy Switch FFI 89
* 2 Fighting Fury Belt BKP 99
* 4 N FCO 105
* 1 Hex Maniac AOR 75
* 2 Lysandre FLF 104
* 4 Professor Sycamore XY 122
* 3 VS Seeker PHF 109
* 2 Exp. Share PRC 128
* 1 Delinquent BKP 98

##Energy - 12

* 12 W Energy BLWEnergy 107

Total Cards - 60

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…but I was still a gamer, and when my dad offered to bring me to Origins Game Fair the next summer, I agreed. There, I met up with old buddy Michael Catron, who handed me a Water Box deck to play in the Origins Win-A-Trip event. As fate would have it, I won! Despite not reaching the attendance goals, Pokémon gave me and a parent the fully-paid trip (but not an invite) to Worlds in California.

Despite this stroke of luck, 2016 Worlds was bitter for me. I tagged along with my brother to Nationals attempting to get an invite but did very poorly. Then, 2016 was (I think) the first year they removed the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) from Worlds. And, for the first time, entering the premises of the event required a competitor badge. I flew to California but didn’t get any of the Worlds experience. Having experienced his first season without me playing (and aging up to Masters), Alex lost interest and stopped playing as well.

PRC–GRI

Volcanion

Pokémon (13)

1 Staryu BKP

1 Starmie EVO

4 Volcanion STS

4 Volcanion-EX

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Turtonator-GX

Trainer (33)

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Guzma

1 Hex Maniac

1 Olympia

 

4 Max Elixir

3 Ultra Ball

3 VS Seeker

2 Trainers’ Mail

1 Field Blower

1 Max Potion

1 Professor’s Letter

 

3 Fighting Fury Belt

1 Float Stone

 

3 Brooklet Hill

Energy (14)

14 R

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 13

* 1 Staryu BKP 25
* 1 Starmie EVO 31
* 4 Volcanion STS 25
* 4 Volcanion-EX STS 26
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Turtonator-GX GRI 18

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 3 Brooklet Hill GRI 120
* 2 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 1 Professor’s Letter BKT 146
* 1 Olympia GEN 66
* 4 Professor Sycamore BKP 107
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 2 Guzma BUS 115
* 4 Max Elixir BKP 102
* 3 Fighting Fury Belt BKP 99
* 3 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 3 N FCO 105
* 1 Hex Maniac AOR 75
* 1 Float Stone BKT 137
* 1 Max Potion BKP 103
* 3 Ultra Ball ROS 93

##Energy - 14

* 14 R Energy BLWEnergy 106

Total Cards - 60

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I played this deck in the exact same situation as Water Box, but to less success. I was a Master at that point and couldn’t expect to win by showing up with a Tier 1 deck. I just thought this deck was neat. I discussed the list a bit with Michael before the tournament and convinced him to change 1 card… yep, I added the Max Potion.


After Origins, I had mild interest in playing again. I borrowed cards to playing a few local tournaments here and there. After a bit, I really focused on building a Decidueye-GX deck. I absolutely adored that you could play Evolution Pokémon again, and the deck reminding me a lot of Yanmega/Magnezone/Kingdra. I refined the list by building all the meta decks and playing against myself, eventually feeling that I was even or favored against most other decks. After that, I ordered the cards and brought it to a Regionals.

BKT–BUS

Decidueye

Pokémon (21)

4 Rowlet SUM

3 Dartrix SUM

4 Decidueye-GX

2 Alolan Vulpix GRI

1 Alolan Ninetales-GX GRI

2 Tapu Koko SM31

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Celebi XY93

1 Espeon-EX

1 Jirachi XY67

Trainer (30)

4 N

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Brigette

2 Guzma

 

4 Rare Candy

4 Ultra Ball

3 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Town Map

 

3 Choice Band

2 Float Stone

Energy (9)

4 Double Colorless

3 G

2 Rainbow

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 21

* 4 Rowlet SUM 9
* 3 Dartrix SUM 10
* 4 Decidueye-GX SUM 12
* 2 Alolan Vulpix GRI 21
* 1 Alolan Ninetales-GX GRI 22
* 2 Tapu Koko PR-SM 31
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Celebi PR-XY 93
* 1 Espeon-EX BKP 117
* 1 Jirachi PR-XY 67

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 4 Rare Candy SUM 129
* 4 Professor Sycamore BKP 107
* 1 Town Map BKT 150
* 3 Field Blower GRI 125
* 2 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Brigette BKT 161
* 4 N FCO 105
* 3 Choice Band GRI 121
* 2 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 Ultra Ball FCO 113

##Energy - 9

* 4 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92
* 3 G Energy BLWEnergy 105
* 2 Rainbow Energy XYEnergy 131

Total Cards - 60

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I’m very proud of this list, as something that I can call entirely my own and the result of a lot of hard work. Every card has multiple purposes, the counts felt right, and the deck was consistent. Playing it was super fun, too. Here are some of the specific choices:

I believe there was a Max Potion in the list for a while; I’m not entirely sure if I ran that or the Jirachi at the Regionals. In any case, I didn’t get the results I wanted. I believe it was in the second to last round, I played Sam Chen’s Gardevoir-GX deck. In Game 3, he plays his whole hand to take a KO, giving him one card in hand and 1 Prize card remaining. I needed just one more turn to win, and I had no single-Prizers in play. His only chance was my lightly damaged Tapu Lele-GX on the Bench. Well, the single Prize card he drew was his third and final Guzma, and the card he topdecked out of ~25 cards was his fourth and final DCE. Anything other than those, it’s my game.

The discouragement set in again. I remember being totally rattled by that match. It’s proof that no matter how hard you try, you can still get destroyed by somebody playing a meta deck and running hot. Around this time, I also had a falling out with some Pokémon friends. I resigned to playing other games indefinitely, except for occasionally terrorizing Expanded PTCGO with Sableye DEX decks.


On December 13th, 2018, Blizzard announced they would no longer supporting their professional league for Heroes of the Storm, their MOBA game. Not one week prior, I reached the Masters rank in-game. I had wanted to join the collegiate league and compete for scholarships.

Despaired, I looked at the old game launchers on my computer and booted up PTCGO. I noticed an old Ross Cawthon deck I had built, and brought it up to date with the new Memory Energy. Nice, it wins against pretty much everything against Garbodor. But that wasn’t good enough. I knew there were more degenerate things I could do.

BLW–TEU

Unfair

Pokémon (9)

4 Shaymin-EX ROS

2 Mew FCO

2 Seismitoad-EX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainer (47)

4 Delinquent

2 Cynthia

 

4 Acro Bike

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Peeking Red Card

4 Red Card

4 Roller Skates

4 Super Scoop Up

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

 

2 Float Stone

2 Muscle Band

 

1 Computer Search

 

4 Virbank City Gym

Energy (4)

4 Double Colorless

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 9

* 4 Shaymin-EX ROS 77
* 2 Mew FCO 29
* 2 Seismitoad-EX FFI 20
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60

##Trainer Cards - 47

* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 4 Trainers’ Mail ROS 92
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 4 Acro Bike PRC 122
* 4 Super Scoop Up FFI 100
* 4 Roller Skates XY 125
* 4 Hypnotoxic Laser PLS 123
* 2 Cynthia UPR 119
* 4 Virbank City Gym PLS 126
* 4 Peeking Red Card CIN 97
* 2 Float Stone PLF 99
* 2 Muscle Band XY 121
* 4 Red Card XY 124
* 4 Delinquent BKP 98

##Energy - 4

* 4 Double Colorless Energy SUM 136

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81511 ******

This is well and truly the most horrific deck ever allowed to exist. You Red Card, Delinquent, then Peeking Red Card until your opponent has a bad card in their hand. Then, you simply Quaking Punch until your opponent benches out. Mew is there for type coverage.

I’ve unfortunately lost the calculations, but I statistically determined that this deck was worth playing. I was locking opponents turn one about 70% of the time (not including times they drew out), which translated into a match winrate of about 80%, so I expected to get a tournament record of 8-1 or 7-2.

Delinquent was emergency banned, but I had already committed to going to Greensboro Regionals. Oh well, guess I’ll just play Shock Lock. You know the rest.

Returning to Standard

There was a period here between playing Shock Lock to the spring circuit and when I started writing for SixPrizes. Even though it will be a while before people care about these retro decks, I’ll still take some time to go over what I played.

SUM–UNB

“Optimal ZapBeasts”

Pokémon (14)

4 Jirachi TEU

3 Zapdos TEU

1 Tapu Koko-GX

1 Tapu Koko p

1 Pheromosa & Buzzwole-GX

1 Buzzwole FLI

1 Spiritomb UNB

1 Marshadow SLG

1 Wobbuffet LOT

Trainer (37)

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

3 Cynthia

 

4 Electropower

4 Switch

4 Ultra Ball

3 Nest Ball

2 Pokégear 3.0

1 Energy Loto

1 Escape Rope

1 Rescue Stretcher

 

2 Choice Band

2 Escape Board

 

1 Shrine of Punishment

1 Thunder Mountain p

Energy (9)

4 L

4 Rainbow

1 Beast p

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 14

* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 3 Zapdos TEU 40
* 1 Tapu Koko-GX GRI 47
* 1 Tapu Koko p TEU 51
* 1 Pheromosa & Buzzwole-GX UNB 1
* 1 Buzzwole FLI 77
* 1 Spiritomb UNB 112
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Wobbuffet LOT 93

##Trainer Cards - 37

* 4 Guzma BUS 115
* 4 Lillie UPR 125
* 3 Cynthia UPR 119
* 4 Switch SUM 132
* 4 Electropower LOT 172
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 135
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 2 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 114
* 1 Energy Loto GRI 122
* 2 Escape Board UPR 122
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Thunder Mountain p LOT 191
* 1 Shrine of Punishment CES 143

##Energy - 9

* 4 L Energy Energy 4
* 4 Rainbow Energy CES 151
* 1 Beast Energy p FLI 117

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81511 ******

ZapBeasts quickly became my favorite deck of SUM-on Standard. Though it’s all about over-tuned Basic Pokémon picking off cheap Prizes, it’s a deck that requires a lot of meaningful decisions. Your exact decklist made a big difference overall as well, rewarding experienced and creative players. After many games with ZapBeasts, I found that Nihilego LOT was actually dead weight and cut him. I played a Wobbuffet LOT, which can lock down a Ditto p as a Beast Game-GX target. A pair of Pokégear 3.0 did better for consistency than Zebstrika LOT in my experience. I preferred the fourth Ultra Ball over Nest Ball because it made the Tapu Koko p + Tapu Koko-GX combo easier to pull off.

ZoroNag

Pokémon (23)

4 Zorua SLG

4 Zoroark-GX

2 Meowth TEU

1 Persian-GX

1 Alolan Grimer SUM

1 Alolan Muk SUM

1 Poipole LOT

1 Naganadel-GX FLI

2 Dedenne-GX

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Ditto p

1 Giratina LOT

1 Marshadow UNB

1 Mew UNB

Trainer (29)

4 Lillie

3 Guzma

2 Judge

1 Acerola

1 Tate & Liza

 

4 Nest Ball

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Ultra Ball

2 Rescue Stretcher

1 Field Blower

1 Pal Pad

 

2 Choice Band

Energy (8)

4 Double Colorless

4 Triple Acceleration

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 23

* 4 Zorua SLG 52
* 4 Zoroark-GX SLG 53
* 2 Meowth TEU 125
* 1 Persian-GX UNB 149
* 1 Alolan Grimer SUM 57
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 1 Poipole LOT 107
* 1 Naganadel-GX FLI 56
* 2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Giratina LOT 97
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81
* 1 Mew UNB 76

##Trainer Cards - 29

* 4 Lillie UPR 125
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Judge FLI 108
* 1 Acerola BUS 112
* 1 Tate & Liza CES 148
* 4 Pokémon Communication BLW 99
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 123
* 4 Ultra Ball
* 2 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 1 Field Blower GRI 125
* 1 Pal Pad FLF 92

##Energy - 8

* 4 Double Colorless Energy NXD 92
* 4 Triple Acceleration Energy UNB 190

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81511 ******

Going into NAIC 2019, there were two groups of players developing Zoroark-GX/Naganadel-GX FLI. The Limitless crew built a version based around Professor Elm’s Lecture, naming it “Checkmate” since Stinger-GX usually put opponents in unwinnable situations. The second group, comprised of myself, Michael Catron, Henry Brand, Isaiah Bradner, and Stéphane Ivanoff, formed by proximity in a big Airbnb. We ran a Lillie/Ball engine—rejecting the Limitless build’s heavy reliance on Tapu Lele and Dedenne—with a Dewgong UNB line, and we named it simply “ZoroNag.”

For those in the dark, Naganadel-GX FLI was basically a tech for the TAG TEAM decks, ReshiZard and PikaRom. You swing into a 3-Prizer, then Judge and Stinger-GX in the same turn (to prevent healing), and finish off the kill and take the game. With the addition of cards like Dewgong and Giratina, our list could checkmate many more archetypes and in different ways. Dual Blizzard was especially good for setting up Distortion Door KOs on Jirachi TEU and Marshadow SLG. Distortion Door specifically made Stinger-GX plays possible against Blowns (Riotous Beating for 120 on Naganadel FLI) and ZapBeasts (Riotous Beating for 100 on Zapdos plus Dual Blizzard on Jirachi/Marshadow).

Each player in my group ran a slightly different list based on what they needed. Isaiah cut the second Dewgong UNB for an Oranguru UPR, since many Seniors played Stall decks. I, unsatisfied with the consistency of the deck, cut the Dewgong entirely for an Alolan Grimer, the fourth Ultra Ball, and an extra copy of Dedenne and Meowth. Though I knew the Dewgong list was better poised to win the event, I just needed Top 256 to secure my invite, which I got at 39th place.

Green’s ReshiZard

Pokémon (7)

4 Volcanion UNB

3 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

Trainer (42)

4 Green’s Exploration

4 Welder

1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

1 Tate & Liza

 

4 Acro Bike

4 Custom Catcher

4 Mixed Herbs

4 Pokégear 3.0

3 Fire Crystal

2 Cherish Ball

2 Fiery Flint

2 Great Potion

2 Reset Stamp

1 Switch

 

2 Power Plant

1 Heat Factory p

1 Shrine of Punishment

Energy (11)

11 R

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 7

* 4 Volcanion UNB 25
* 3 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 20

##Trainer Cards - 42

* 4 Green’s Exploration UNB 175
* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 1 Tate & Liza CES 148
* 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy UNB 178
* 4 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 3 Fire Crystal UNB 173
* 2 Fiery Flint DRM 60
* 4 Custom Catcher LOT 171
* 2 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 4 Mixed Herbs LOT 184
* 2 Great Potion UNM 198
* 4 Acro Bike PRC 122
* 1 Switch
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 1 Shrine of Punishment CES 143
* 2 Power Plant UNB 183

##Energy - 11

* 11 R Energy BLWEnergy 106

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=81511 ******

After Worlds 2019, I wrote an article on my experience developing QuagNag, then went on to write about Expanded for a while. I never discussed the deck that I played every weekend, because there wasn’t anything special about my Green’s ReshiZard list. That is, until I put in Tate & Liza and a Surge. With those tiny consistency and power boosts, I firmly believe Green’s was the BDIF. (I will concede that it got a lot worse post-HIF, since FamilyZard made Mewtwo a much harder matchup.) This list can be tweaked to the appropriate meta by altering counts of healing vs. Stamp + Plant. Do not go below 4 Mixed Herb, though.

Conclusion

I hope you were able to reminisce a bit with the article, or perhaps add a list to your retro deck collection. I’m personally looking forward to playing with Catron’s 2010 decks in the near future. Though I know I probably won’t, I want to start doing a better job of recording decks that I play. It would make looking back fondly a lot easier.

With that said, thanks for making it to the end to yet another wordy article. I’ll catch you all at the end of the month.

-Jonathan


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