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João Lopes

Life in the Kingdom of Toads

Now that the BCR-PCL metagame is more than defined, is there any deck or tech that hasn't been discovered already? This article will guide you to the answer.

04/08/2015 by João Lopes

Greetings, fellow Pokémon players!

As I write this article, we’re entering in the final weeks of the U.S. State Championships and the last European Regionals. For many players these are the last tournaments of this season. Nationals are, for the most part, a “make it or break it” deal. Naturally, players don’t like to go to the absolute last tournament before Worlds without an invite secured. With that in mind, we could say that it’s the last chance to qualify for Worlds or to try and grab one of those sweet spots on the top16/22. 

After the big U.S. Regionals, the BCR – PCL format is pretty much defined. Those Regionals showcased what were the new cards that really could shake up the format. In Denise’s article you can find a detailed explanation of the big decks of Florida Regionals.

With stakes this high we can expect the best brews to come out of these tournament’s top tables. All eyes are on the most dominant decks – people are trying to improve them or straight up counter them. 

In this article, we’ll go through some interesting lists. Rather than an in depth analysis of each one, we’ll establish the correlation between the dominant archtypes. My objective here is to help players understand the metagame rather than focus on individual lists. 



First and foremost, let’s talk about the big bad toad that is tormenting the top tables of every major tournament.

Although I think this game has major flaws in the design department (I often say it has no Research and Development team at all), Seismitoad EX sticks out as a card that clearly shouldn’t have been printed. Why? Well, because of the very reason it is such a popular card and strategies revolving around it are so successful.

The very existence of Seismitoad EX warps the metagame around it.

I’m bringing up this topic because I think it is very important to understand why the way this card works affects how players should build their decks. The new “rules” of the current metagame will be brought up when discussion every deck from this point on so let’s get this out of the way first:

This is not the first time item lock decks have risen in power. Item/Trainer lock has been a somewhat popular strategy since it was introduced into the game. Though it was beyond at first due to the fact that there were no Supporters, Mewtric, DialgaChomp, Vileplume, Gothitelle and Trevenant based decks all had a lot of success.

So why is Seismitoad EX so different? Three major reasons:


Seismitoad has no restrictions – Dialga needed a whole engine dedicated to it, MewTrick filled 11 Pokémon slots just for its main attackers, Vileplume required us to set up a stage 2 and locked both players and Gothitelle/Trevenant must be active. Seismitoad fits in literally every deck and requires no set up.

We live in the draw-supporters era – People dare to compare DialgaChomp with Toad without ever realizing this BIG difference. Image just how different it would be if we had Roseanne’s Research in the format. Would the hammer barrage be effective if we could search for two more energy to attach? Would we be locked if we could search for Keldeo/Virizion/Audino/Darkrai AND an energy to keep attacking? Not only is the format too fast for search Supporters, there no good choices to begin with. Even so, Korrina is one of the best Supporters under Item lock. Coincidence? I think not.

Seismitoad EX has the LaserBank combo – How many games have Toad players won just on the back of sleep check flips? This obnoxious card requires the opponent to have specific techs to deal with the sleep condition. If left unchecked, the tempo loss may be too great for the player ever getting back into the game. As if the cumulative damage output of the poison via Virbank City Gym wasn’t bad enough…


Seismitoad EX was born in a format almost made for it. This is why we can’t compare to similar lock decks in the past.

So, again, why am I emphasizing so much on the dominance of this particular Pokémon?

Take a look at the popular engine that is used in practically every deck: 4 Ultra Ball, 1 Jirachi EX, 4 VS. Seeker paired up with 1-of supporters to add more versatility to any strategy. Can you really rely so much on this engine? Is it worth to cut supporters to increase the VS Seeker count? In a world without Toads running around, yes! This engine has proven to quite effective and situational supporters have become stronger now that you can use them whenever you like as long as they are sitting on your discard pile. However, that consistency can become an hindrance when we are under an item lock.

This does not exclude decks packing their own Seismitoad EX strategy. Take a look at Bernardo Mocho’s and Filipe Cardoso’s list that got Igor Costa first place in Lisbon and Seixal Regionals.

Igor has made a video where he describes in detail the card choices for this list, the overall strategy of the deck as well as some tricks and tips for numerous matchups. He also shows the deck in action on PTCGO.

As you can see, this list parts away from some common choices like Acro Bike and Bicycle, to have an edge on the mirror or against other Seismitoad based strategies. Instead, this list has an heavy supporter line. This version of the deck focuses much more on guaranteed energy discard.

One major difference that confuses a lot of people is the use of only 3 VS. Seeker. You see, as much as we all love VS Seeker, we have recognize that under a lock, it is a dead card. The smaller number is compensated by the inclusion or more supporters as I mentioned above. This list has been crafted specifically to perform well on Seismitoad-filled field, and it shows.

If you are considering trying out the dreaded Seismitoad/Slurpuff deck, this list is a great place to start. But what should you fear? What beats this deck? It isn’t invincible, is it?
The deck is strong, but it isn’t unbeatable. Perhaps the most intuitive way to tackle this threat is via it literal weakness: Grass.

As the most threatning deck in the format, Seismitoad is bound to face some direct counters that will make its life a lot tougher. One example of this is the inclusion of up to 3 Leafeons on Flareon decks. There are a lot of more creative ways to attenuate the overall damage of Toad’s lock but there is one deck that is pure grass and has proven itself to be very consistent and powerfull: Virgen.


The Virizion EX/Genesect EX combo forms one of those decks that, if not kept in check, can run over every opponent in a tournament. It is a deck that will be a viable option until it gets rotated (which should happen pretty soon).

Surprisingly, Virgen HAS been kept in check. From the rising of Night March and quick fighting decks like LandBats to the heavily used Spiritomb, Virgen had a face too many tough matchups to be a safe choice to a big tournament. However, here’s where the beauty of this game comes into play:

Because Virgen is assumed to be dead, people took out Spiritomb and other techs that would deal with that matchup. Consequently, decks that rose to power because they beat it and other archtypes alike, fell down in popularity because they had a not-so-good matchup against Seismitoad variants. One example of this is LandBats, a deck that is struggling in a Toad filled metagame. Another example if Flareon, a deck that gained popularity after it won Florida Regionals but has been not successful with the increasing presence of Seismitoad EX. 

So, is this enough to make Virgen rise again? Not quite. Another thing that kept the green guys in check is the big bad Toad itself. Due to the vast tools of energy discard that those decks have at their disposal, it may be impossible to get one single Emerald Slash off. Without that crucial attack, there is no hope to set up an attacker.

We shouldn’t take this little “details” discourage us from consider a Virgen build. By all means, the deck is still a solid choice and if by any chance the Virgen player successfully connects an Emerald Slash powering a second Virizion EX, the Toad player will be in a ton of pressure and coming back to the game will not be an easy job.

Some players have been tinkering with the deck to find out a way to guarantee enough energy on the board to get the crucial Emerald Slash. Joey Gaffney was one of the first to come up with strange ideas to accelerate energy. Let’s take a look into his list: 

Joey managed to get to second place in the Seatle’s State Championships with this…. Well… Strange version of the Virizion/Genesect deck.

This deck carries a lot of cool ideas. In my opinion, perhaps too many cool ideas. Even so, one can always get their inspiration from these kinds of builds and then make his own list. Let’s go through the techs he used:

1 Illumise + 1 Xerosic

Illumise, now that’s something we haven’t seen in competitive play! Joey used this little non-EX Pokémon to guarantee some sort energy acceleration when facing the energy discard barrage of Toad decks. While Illumise is non-EX, the rest of the deck is still vulnerable to Head Ringer.
Xerosic takes care of that problem with the bonus of being able to discard important energy cards. Against Seismitoad, discarding its Double Colorless Energy might be the disruption need to stop it from locking for a turn.

2 Seismitoad EX, 1 Lysandre’s Trump Card

Night March is a tough matchup. They are able to consistently trade two prizes for one after they set up. That set up is, however, much faster than Virgen’s thanks to the array of item cards that they have at their disposal. 
Lysandre’s Trump does not heal the wound makes us immune to them. It does, however, reset the clock. The way to stop that clock from ever ticking again is to bring up Seismitoad EX and lock them. Of course, this sounds perfect on paper but it’s too “cute” for my taste.

1 Hypnotoxic Laser

Funny, not so long ago João Brás told me about his idea of using Hypnotoxic Laser to get rid of those pesky Spiritombs and to hit the magic 130 without the need of Deoxys EX. As it turns out, there is someone who was successful with this idea!
With a Muscle Band, Virizion’s Emerald Slash does 70 damage. With the extra damage from the laser, it is possible to one-shot Spiritomb without losing tempo by going after it with Genesect. Also, Deoxys is, more often than not, a liability. If dragged by an opponent’s Lysandre, it can be used to gain time and force the the Virgen player to waste resources to keep going with the main game plan. Not to mention it can be locked by Seismitoad, that would be just disastrous.

We can’t argue against results, Joey managed to take this deck second place. However, we should be careful when choosing the techs to include – some aren’t worth it not matter how effective they may be. Bernardo Dias wrote an article where he discusses this matter. Be sure to check it out.
Speaking of him, he also gave the old powerhouse a second chance. Let’s take a look at Bernardo’s Virgen list that he used to get to top4 at the Seixal Regional Championship. 


Bernardo was also concerned about the Seismitoad EX matchup. His approach, however, is much more proactive rather than reactive. The list is pretty solid and consistent. The core of the deck is intact and techs he choose do not derivate too much from the main game plan. This is the biggest different between Bernardo’s and Joey’s versions, one choose consistency, the other choose efficiency.
Let’s start with the 4 Muscle Band count. Head Ringer can kill the deck on the spot. To have the maximum chance of preventing this, Bernardo maxed out the tools on top of having one Tool Retriever.

Now the sweet one: the 2-2 Leafeon line.

I like this tech. I really do. Yes, it is a stage one BUT it plays like a basic. Eevee’s Energy Evolution grants the ability to evolve it right as you play it with just a basic energy. You can get Eevee, drop an energy and attack with Leafeon right away. This is a huge factor in favor of this tech.

Leafeon straight up counters Seismitoad EX. That is a known fact. As a bonus, it can help the Virgen player deal with some low HP attackers, like Joltic in Night March, without resorting to the EX attacker in the deck.

It should be mentioned that Leafeon also takes care of Suicune – a card with rising popularity.

These tricks do not grant the archtype an immunity against its troublesome matchups, of course. Some decks are still very hard to deal with. One of them was the most popular at the start of the Spring Regionals season. Since then it has declined in popularity but is still a very good choice. I’m talking about LandBats.



The combo of Landorus EX, Hawlucha and Crobat form a powerful deck capable of having an solution to any situation. Being able to reach out to any Pokémon on the field is already impressive. However, this kind of deck enables the player to use a few tricks like manipulating the N draws by deciding when to take prizes. With that said, it isn’t a deck that any player can pick up and play – it requires a lot testing as some critical plays are not obvious without a considerable amount of practice beforehand.

The deck is much more than tricks and fancy plays. Besides having the most consistent engine in the format, thanks to Korrina, most of the time a single energy on the field is more than enough.

This archtype has solid matchups across the board except one: Seismitoad EX. That may be the reason why it has been used less and less. Even so, it is a strong deck and very fun to play.

Paulo Silva has been using LandBats for quite a while, lately, he managed to get to a top4 and a finals on these last Regionals. Let’s take a look at his final version of the deck:

There are a few ways to approach this deck. Paulo opted for a more consistent build as it shows by his ACE SPEC of choice (Computer Search), the total of 5 search balls (3 Ultra Ball and 2 Repeat Ball) and 9 energy plus a Professor’s Letter. Others might, however, prefer a more technical build.

Some popular choices include Scoop Up Cyclone as an alternative for the ACE SPEC spot. This allows to instantly heal Landorus EX who only needs a single energy to attack (Land’s Judgement is an option but should only be considered in very specific situations). What it does is effectively negate one or more of the opponent’s turns while keeping the pressure up. Another use of this card is to pick up a Crobat line to keep spreading more damage. Paulo prefers consistency but he also runs 2 Super Scoop Up for a chance to get the same effect without using up the coveted ACE SPEC spot.

Silent Labs are a nifty tech. These stadiums enable him to knock out Manectric EX and Darkrai EX with Hawlucha and get past Mr.Mime to keep hitting the bench with Landorus’ Hammer Head.

Lucario EX is also a popular inclusion in this archtype. It is used mainly to add another attacker that does not have a water weakness.

Paulo’s list runs only two Landorus as they are very resilient making extra copies virtually useless. Instead, he opted for a full set of Hawlucha, a Pokémon that is much prevalent in today’s metagame. When considering this deck’s bad matchup – ToadPuff – it is better to apply a proactive plan right from the start. In this particular list, a high count of Hawlucha and Korrina will ensure a stream of little Rey Misterio birds that the Toad player must deal with. One might argue against this strategy by saying that they can easily knock out Hawluchas via Virbank and Laser and Muscle Band attached. While this is true, I think that is tackling the situation with the wrong perspective. Instead try this: facing an Hawlucha, the Toad player MUST have the Laser-bank combo and a Muscle Band, otherwise the damage that Hawlucha deals will be piling up and eventually get to a point where the Seismitoad player can’t handle and the Toads will fall one after the other.

What I just mentioned is an instance of the basic concept in competitive card games called “applying pressure”. The conservative way of playing Pokémon is profitable in long games, sure. However, players get too caught up in this idea and often miss their chances to win. This topic alone deserves an entire article to be explained, if you’re interested I’ll write it sometime.

Each matchup requires a specific plan. Seismitoad decks get stronger the longer the game goes. Each turn we opt for the conservative approach afraid of what the opponent might have, gives them more time to set up and eventually find those answers we were so afraid of. In other matchups, however, slowing down the game and preserving resources is often the better choice. One example of this is the matchup of LandBats versus Night March.



Although the meta is defined and unlikely to change, there is still room for some creative crafting. Throughout this article, we cicled through some aspects – important cards and strategies, if you will - that compose this meta. There are a lot of ways to counter them and to work around them, all it takes is a bit of patience, an open mind to new ideas a lots, and I mean LOTS, of playtesting.

So, what are you waiting for?

For those who still have an opportunity to earn those last few Championship Points, take one of the lists that I presented you here and test it out. Find what works best for you, fine tune a deck to your liking or even design a new strategy that preys upon the weaknesses of the more popular decks.

All it takes is work and information. Lucky for you, there's more than enough material here to start. Now, go out there and start playtesting!

Good luck!

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