Back to the future - endtroducing Fairytales
09/10/2014 by 60Cards
Oh hay there fellow Pokémon trainers! This was originally intended to be an article on my pet deck Zebstrika, the superior horse Pokémon, but since it now sucks major stick due to Pokémon Catcher being nerfed from November 8th, I will hereby present you an analysis of the Regionals season, the upcoming format, and a completely new/old metagame deck. But hold your horses kids, I have to present myself first.
Actually it's no need to hold these horses anymore. Maybe in the future?
My name is David Hovland Jensen, and I live in Norway, near Oslo. A fraction of the international Pokémon TCG community recognizes my name, so if you do, I'm impressed! I have played competitively for eight years and counting, and right now I'm deep into testing for the Fall Regionals season here in Norway. Just to get it outta the way, here is my total list of accomplishments so far.
Top 32 Worlds 2009.
Top 8 Worlds 2010.
Top 32 Worlds 2011.
National Champion 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.
Pretty impressive, huh? Not really, since last season was my first year playing competitively in masters, and as you all know, seniors doesn't count. Or does it?
I know a lot of people kind of changed their mind after the Klaczynski Open earlier this Autumn, where the 13-year old Lex D'Andrea went on an incredible streak to take the trophy home; undefeated! Actually, the senior division used to be treated equal to the master division back in the day, believe it or not. It was the overall biggest division, and most of the senior players had the spare time and passion to thoroughly test and master the game. I wonder what has happened to the seniors (or masters) since then...
My personal opinion is that the average master player's skill level is way above the average senior player's skill level; it is two different age groups after all. However, Pokémon is not a very difficult game to play, as some might claim. Children's card game anyone? All it takes is some average devotion to the game, and voila, you are now one of the best players in the world, together with hundreds, maybe thousands of others. I find it hilarious that so many takes this game so seriously when top matches usually boils down to luck, matchups and who has prepared themselves the best.
But David, how did you manage to win Nationals three times in a row if the game is just luck? Maybe I'm a hypocrite, but someone has yet to convince me of anything else. To sum it up: you will come to a point where you can't get any better at this game, and a relatively high percent of players have reached that point (regardless of division). Feel free to discuss this with me in the comments.
WELL ANYWAY, now that I am done bragging and nagging, let's start off with the best decks from the justfinished
Regionals season in the US!
Autumn Regionals Results
(thanks a ton to The Top Cut for the information!)
This list shows us the top 8 decks and their respective wins in masters. To be honest, I am not too surprised. Plasma, Blastoise and Virizion variants did really well, as expected. As the Regionals season progressed, players shifted from the overhyped Genesect/Virizion deck to the more compact Virizion/Mewtwo variant. Genesect has a lot of problems as a main attacker, mostly because its only consistent energy acceleration is an attack on another Pokémon. Mewtwo can put in work from the first DCE and will never look back. Together with Bouffalant, they form a fast, solid deck that doesn't take bullshit laser flips to the face. Another reason to play Mewtwo over Genesect could be to have a better matchup against all the Big Basic decks which had a small resurrection and was up there, too. After playing Landorus/Mewtwo/Drifblim at this years World Championship (40th place btw), I knew that the deck was far from dead even then. To sum up the top decks, what I have learned over the last years is that Darkrai will never die until it's dead.
Below all the top meta decks we see some interesting variants, though. Victini EX/Terrakion EX/Drifblim, a true counter deck for everything not Blastoise, actually won a Regionals. That's a huge feat and should inspire all the deck inventors out there. The same goes for the Stunfisk/Leafeon/Drifblim deck, checking all of the big decks with help from the newly released Silver Bangle. To predict the metagame is one tough cookie for sure, as everyone does it or tries to do it. By using some complex reverse psychology and a tiny bit of your luck reserves, you can prevail as the best Pokémon trainer that ever was - at that tournament at least.
To be fair, there is only one deck that truly stands out from the crowd. You might have guessed it already; the one and only Klinklang. The Plasma one this time. WITHOUT the higly important and rotated Shift Gear Klinklang who carried the deck all last season and who singlehandily won US nationals in 2012. WITHOUT Cobalion NVI who knocked Kyurems left and right. Why is Klinklang even on this list? Cobalion EX can cope with Kyurem just fine, especially in combination with Enhanced Hammer. Maybe he played Drifblim too, just to make sure he would beat Kyurem? Anyway, the ability to shut down EX attackers in an EX dominated format what makes Plasma Klinklang shine. A lot of players didn't even have a non-EX attacker in their deck! Good meta call, trainer!
So for all you Europeans out there, this list give you a good indication on what's hot or not. As the European metagame tends to vary a lot from place to place, it's hard to predict exactly what you will face. My suggestion is that you test the decks that has already proved themselves to do well, and that you pick the deck that you feel you have the biggest advantage with. Good luck!
...on the other hand, how will these decks fare in the unexplored new format that we have in sight? It's hard to predict, as the rule changes, although they might not look like it, are massive.
I bet that a lot of you are eager to find out how the new format without Pokémon Catcher plays out. And so am I! As my limited testing suggests, rogue decks will be everywhere! So many cards have been released with enormous potential and just as many cards have been filling up our binders and shoeboxes because of the loved/hated Pokémon Catcher. It's time to open our eyes and wipe the dust of our legendary treasures to see a whole new perspective on the game that we all love to play!
Flip over, dude. You're in the no-zone.
Unfortunately, Catcher still exists... In the form of the dreaded Pokémon Reversal. I was at Worlds 2011. And yes, I cried too. In spite of this, I think things will be different this time around. After taking a quick glance at my lists from '11, the decks back then had Magnezone Prime and a lot more deck space in general (only 5 sets was legal for Worlds).
Don't get me wrong; Catcher is still a good card, but you can't depend on it to win/lose you every single game anymore. That's why I am highly skeptical to players that drop out on consistency cards for a few situational coinflips. At the same time, people may be eager to cut down on Switch and Float Stone, just because Catcher won't be so prevalent. I am definely excited to find out how these two mechanics balance each other. Another relation of balance is "benching stuff" vs. Pokémon Catcher. Some people will start filling up their bench again because the risk of a crippling Catcher is low. More consistency tech cards like Electrode and Musharna might see play. Then again, maybe people will play more Colress and tech Absol into their lists. Interesting for sure, and it's hard to predict what the norm will be.
Yet another change that will make fringe decks more playable is the first turn no-attack rule. Gothitelle/Accelgor loves this (it's not dead!), and so does every other setup deck. Plasma and Big Basics hate on it, because obviously, they feasted on donks. My opinion is that every factor that negates donks is a positive factor, so I am happy for this rule change.
David's bold statements:
- Escape Rope will see a small surge in play
- Rogues will be prevalent
- Good decks will still be good, but everything else will be much better than before
- Switch and Float Stone counts in decks will be decreased, unless they are instrumental for the deck to work
- Catcher will not be played in high numbers. Most good players will eventually cut it for something else.
Don't even think of that Jellicent, David..
Do these cards want you to try out some new decks? I hope so! There is a lot of room for creativity nowadays, and you should take advantage of it. Although these Pokémon look fun, good and interesting in a format without Catchers, we do have a few cards who might spill the beans for them.
All of these potentially good Pokémon boasts Abilities, so maybe Garbodor will be the new king of the format? And even if we don't have Catchers, Genesect EX still has an Ability that lets you use a Catcher when you put a Plasma Energy onto it. It would definitely be resereved to a Genesect/Plasma based deck, but it's still a threat to every bench out there. The final card I want to mention resembles a monster we all loved a few seasons ago: Luxray GL Lv.X is back! I hereby present to you:
Fairytales - the deck
A guaranteed Pokémon Catcher? No dice needed you say? Wow, that's just amazing! As I was toying around with Ninetales as a tech in every deck you can imagine, I had this bright idea of resurrecting the old Ninetales/Amoonguss flop deck from Autumn Battle Roads last year. The result was a welcome sight to my new view of the format.
Why did it flop back then? Originally, Ninetales/Amoonguss had a small hype going for it. It had a solid base concept, a real synergy that forced you to devote space to two different Pokémon lines, and it dealt solid damage for just 1 Fire energy. On the flipside, it had some really big problems. First, it didn't deal enough damage. 120 + poison is nice, but it required a fresh Amoonguss every turn. On top of that, 120 damage has never killed a noteworthy EX Pokémon for the last seven formats. To solve this problem, we use two cards that we aquired in the Plasma Storm expansion. Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City gym were originally made for Ninetales, and Ninetales was made for them. Now, having more cards that inflicts Special Conditions is nice and all, and really helps Ninetales out. But I have to say that Virbank is the real star of the deck. Without it, the math simply wouldn't work out to be as perfect as it is (I'll get back to that later). Now we cap at 150 damage, but we still need that little "oomph" to knock out the big basics that dominates the format. Remember this guy?
Well I sure do! 180 damage, there you have it. This card was also made for Ninetales by the way. I love it. You should too.
Second, the deck tended to "fuzz out" in the last few turns of the game. The reason was that it always needed a combination of cards to pull off 120+ damage per turn. Due to the explosive and rushing nature of the deck, the most crippling play you could do against Ninetales was to knock out their active and N them on the same turn. Then, they had to prepare a new Ninetales, another Amoonguss AND another energy to attack. If you managed to N them multiple times in a row, the game was as good as over. Now, this problem has no obvious solution like the first. The only way to avoid being stranded is to have enough supporter cards in your deck. You do play Hypnotoxic Laser that inflicts status conditions, so Amoonguss may not be needed late game. However, Laser is more of a bonus card rather than a reliable source of taking knockouts on big threats, so you are not safe yet. You could play support Pokémon like Musharna (which has some synergy with Munna), but that seems like a waste of space for a tiny reward. The rising star Jirachi EX fits quite nicely in this deck, as all of your Pokémon has 90 HP or less, and you would obviously play 4 Level Ball to exploit that. It is no longer such a risk to play it as Catcher is more or less gone, too. You could even sacrifice it mid-game to mind game your opponent into not playing that crucial N because he wouldn't benefit that much from it himself. Don't put it into play in mirror matches though, that's dangerous kids.
Third, Vulpix and Foonguss are very weak basic Pokémon. Both basics have nice supporting attacks, but that doesn't help you much when you are staring down a Kyurem with a Water and Plasma energy before you even got to draw a card. This problem has an easy fix: the new first turn rule! It really improves Vulpix/Foongus chances of surviving the first turn. This is huge, and another factor to why this deck is a powerhouse right now.
Now that we have covered all the old problems for our friends till the end, there just has to be some new problems. And there sure is. Garbodor and Virizion are hard counters to this deck. Really hard counters. At first thought, you would just accept defeat and abandon this deck idea for good. But then you realize that Tool Scrapper still exists, and that Laser can work as a pseudo-Amoonguss from time to time. The matchup may look grim, but it's not unwinnable. Virizion on the other hand, is a nightmare on hooves... But it has fire weakness! With a Bangle, Ninetails deals 100 solid damage for just 1 fire energy. Also the fact that you always can Bright Look the Virizion back up again puts a lot of pressure on your opponent; you are evenly trading prizes. Unfortunately, the matchup is still a problem for Ninetales as it needs a lot of cards to get going. If you whiff Bangle just once, it's more or less over. But hey, we have to accept some bad matchups. Every deck have them. If you want to be adventurous, you can tech a Garbodor yourself, but you will just bite your own tail in the end, trust me.
So really, why is this deck so good right now? It still has a lot of problems! Well, remember what I said about the math is always working in Ninetails' favor? It really does! Let's use some examples.
Ninetales, use your Hexed Flame attack!
As your opponent shivers in fear of the inevitable, you are desperately plotting in the numbers on your portable calculator device. Or just looking at this damage table that I made just for you.
Degree 1: No special conditions: 20 base damage, +30 with Silver Bangle. Knocks out Jirachi EX and opposing Foongus'. Sets up for a Degree 2 Knock Out on both EX and non-EX.
Degree 2: Poison (1 special condition, aquired by a "failed" laser flip): 70 base damage, +10 poison damage, +20 if you have Virbank in play, +30 with Silver Bangle = max 130 damage. Knocks out all common Basic Pokémon that can evolve + Absol, stellar Stage 1's like Drifblim and Flareon, and puts major pressure on Pokémon with 110-130 HP (Bouffalant, Kyurem). Deals 130 damage to an EX Pokémon, putting pressure on Ho-Oh EX.
Degree 3: Poison + Sleep/Confuse (2 special conditions, aquired by a successful laser flip, an Amoonguss drop): 120 base damage, +10 poison damage, +20 if you have Virbank in play, +30 with Silver Bangle = max 180 damage. Knocks out all and everything in one hit. This is your preferred way of attacking.
Degree 4: Poison + Sleep/Confuse + Burn (3 special conditions, aquired by a successful laser flip/an Amoonguss drop and a Vulpix setup): 170 base damage + everything else. Possible 240 damage on an EX Pokémon. It never happens though. Still fun.
Are you eager to test this new force in the metagame? I hereby provide you with a great starting point. Most of the cards are in there for an obvious reason, but you can tweak it as much as you want. I made some counts of cards flexible to show you where to cut for more space. Please use it responsibly!
Ninetales + Amoonguss
- 1x Mr. Mime
- 1x Jirachi EX
- 4x Foongus
- 3x Amoonguss
- 3x Ninetales
- 4x Vulpix
- 2x Switch
- 4x Professor Juniper
- 4x Hypnotoxic Laser
- 3x Virbank City Gym
- 1x Dowsing Machine
- 2x Colress
- 4x Silver Bangle
- 2x Super Rod
- 4x Level Ball
- 3x N-supporter
- 3x Random Receiver
- 1x Devolution Spray
- 1x Tool Scrapper
- 7x Fire Energy
As you can see, this deck has some nice answers to a lot of things. It can Bright Look every benchsitter out there to stall or just rush through your opponent. OHKOing EXes with a single fire energy is a REALLY satisfying feeling. If you want to be a rebel in this upcoming metagame, you have your answer right here.
Finally, David, seriously, dude, why do you call the deck Fairytales? Such a fairy name! Well, fairies have attained a lot of momentum lately, so I just wanted to keep it going, you know? Besides, Mr. Mime is the best fairy there ever was, and he's in this deck. Jirachi EX is kind of a fairy too in my opinion. And after all, this deck is like a fairytale to play. Simple as that.
Next time around, I will provide you guys with a tournament report (including videoes of games!) from Oslo Regionals. Maybe Fairytales will take the trophy home?
Thank you for reading, and stay snazzy!
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