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Revisiting Nats 2013 - Shell Shield or Empty Shell?

09/10/2014 by 60Cards

A Trip Down Memory Line...

Hello 60 cards readers, I hope you all are gearing up for your local League Challenges and City Championships! As we enter unfamiliar territory as the new season rules go into effect, I feel like it would be silly of me to speculate on a completely undefined meta-game. However I will be back to talk to you later this month about all the happenings in my local meta game as I will be playing in at least two league championships  happening soon.  That being said, this is the perfect time to talk about a deck that holds a special place in my team's heart: RATS!


For those who don't know, I'm on a casual team called Ducklett Dynasty , a play on words from the ever so popular television series "Duck Dynasty." With the addition of Dylan Dreyer and Victor Rodriguez last month, our team has grown to 10 members strong and we're always looking to add more.  But there was a time when our team was very small, consisting of only 3 players: Jon McClay, Chad Bosquez and myself. McClay embodies the spirit of Ducklett Dynasty right down to his crazy long beard that he gets asked about at every single tournament he plays in.

Jon  also plays the game for a much different reason than most of the rest of the team. While we tend to play with a primary focus on winning and a secondary focus on having fun, Jon strictly wants to have fun and if he wins it's even more satisfying. If an opponent is being rude or taking a game way too serious, he has no issue telling them to lighten up and realize they're playing a children's card game. I've seen him do it and it's downright hillarious, jack!

For Nationals this year we did extensive testing of the meta game and as we flew to Indiana from our hometown of Seattle,  I was under the impression that we were all on the same page and were all going to play Blastoise. Jon strayed from the pond and opted to play a deck that made me absolutely rage during testing - Raticate-Shedinja!

What .... The.... ?

Ok I know what you're thinking and trust me, on paper this deck looks bad and there are some glaringly questionable decisions in his list, but in practice this deck does work well.  The basic strategy here is to use Raticate's "Super Fang" in combination with Hypnotoxic  laser to one hit KO any pokemon. If you are unable to draw into a laser when you attack, for one psychic energy Shedinja will allow you to place (keyword: place, as it gets by Mr. Mime's bench barrier ability) 3 damage counters on any of your opponents pokemon. Shedinja's "empty shell" ability also prevents your opponent from taking a prize when it is KO'd, forcing your opponent to have a pokemon catcher otherwise they do not get a prize that turn.

From experience playing against this deck, it really struggled against big basic decks that began dealing damage on T1 (or outright donking it for that matter), but if you couldn't disrupt the flow of energy and get ahead of its attachments, you would likely lose or play an extremely close game against it.  One key deck that it had a really solid matchup against was Blastoise. Most Blastoise players at Nationals ran a limited number of catchers and 0-1 tool scrappers, meaning they could not catcher around Shedinja or scrap away experience shares. This created for a frustrating game of wasted turns killing Shedinja after Shedinja while Jon was able to set up and prepare to stream Raticates. 

I wanted to see what Jon's experience was like playing the deck so I asked him a few questions about his Nationals experience.

How did you finish at Nats? What did you beat and what did you lose to?

My score was pretty bad...I won 1 match out of 4 or 5. Due to some confusion I thought there was going to be 7 rounds day one but they changed it after I dropped. This deck plays well, but luck was not in my favor and I just didn't set up. Which is totally ok, that's how it goes sometimes. 

The one win was absolutely amazing. My opponent set up his first Darkrai and I was able to trigger my first rat kill using a laser. His face was so confused when I explained what happened. The entire experience was worth that one moment. After his first Darkrai was KO'ed I continued to watch his energy attachments and knocked those pokes out. 

The losses came from some wicked fast Plasma decks...turn one frost spear is really hard to work around when all your basics have 40 hp...Once Darkrai sets up it is also hard to recover with their bench damage.

What was the general reaction from your opponents when they saw your deck?

My opponents absolutely loved and respected my choice. I go to tournaments to have fun. Some young kids made fun of me saying I shouldn't have traveled so far to play such a stupid deck. This didn't bother me because I reminded them that I wasn't brain washed by the TV show! I didn't go to the best, I travel to tournaments to have a good time and meet great people. I want to encourage players all over the globe to enjoy the Pokemon TCG and to have fun. Competitive play is awesome, but don't forget to enjoy yourself! 

The players in the Master's category had a great time trying to figure out what was happening when they were beside me and had really encouraging words for someone playing a FUN deck!

What would you have done differently with your build ?

If you were to try this deck, you have GOT to include Mr. Mime. A last minute deck change was made to include EXP Shares to maintain energy on the field at Nats. This was a total mistake. You want 4 rescue scarves so you can stream Shedinjas in the early game in order to set the rats up. The supporter line is solid as well. I encourage anyone to run a few games with this deck because it gives you a new appreciation for how the game can work.

 Thanks for reading about my experience! Good luck and don't forget, ENJOY yourself!

The Rats Strike Back....

With the new errata to pokemon catcher and the lack of attacking on Turn one, I wondered to myself if this deck gained any viability going forward, which is what inspired this article. Like I said previously, there are definitely some things I would have done differently with the original list, so I went to work and put my own spin on the deck

As you can see I've kept much of the deck's skeleton intact, making only a few key changes that I'll discuss.  With a bench of extremely low HP Pokemon like as Rattata (40hp), Raticate (60hp) and Nincada (40hp) , Mr. Mime is this deck's best friend. It's so important that I feel running two copies is completely justified to ensure that you draw into it early and/or avoid prizing it. Next, I opted to throw a Sawk (PLB) in here for two reasons. This guy is able to deal 50 damage to a Kyurem (PLF), 100 to a Thundurus-EX  or flat out  one-shot KO an Absol for just one colorless energy. Also, in an absolute pinch, he can deal that final ten damage to any pokemon (except fighting resistant) that has already been hit with a Super Fang.

I retained much of the supporter line because I was a big fan of how Jon's version ran in our pre-Nationals testing. I did drop a random receiver and add two Tropical Beaches as this deck doesn't really have much of a first turn to speak of. Obviously Beach is now the best option in format for Turn 1 and while not mandatory to this deck's set up ability, a couple and a computer search gives us  three outs to a T1 tropical beach.

With the extra spaces remaining from cutting the catchers completely out of the list, I opted to add a single ultra ball and a second super rod. You could do a few interesting things with these slots actually and I went back on fourth on the second super rod as I could easily see this slot being an 8th psychic energy, a fourth Shedinja, a singleton enhance hammer or a town map simply to give this deck Team Ducklett Dynasty signature style. Ultimately I chose a second super rod for the ability to set up more Shedinja's in the event I run out of DCE's and need time to manually attach 3 psychics to score a final KO.

With donks no longer being an issue, catcher being a 50-50 flip and the addition of Mr. Mime to prevent your opponent from taking multiple prizes, I think this deck could see it creep it's way upward from absolute rogue obscurity to Tier 3 or 4 viability. It's a deck that obviously has extremely poor matchups that would be uphill battles against things like Big Basics and anything running Garbador, but it does have a few decent matchups. This deck could certainly give Virizion-Mewtwo, Virizion-Genesect, Blastoise and speed Darkrai a run for their money.



Final Thoughts...

Even if this deck never sees its day to shine, I'm glad that I've gotten to share with you a deck that brought our team much discussion, laughter and myself much personal rage.  I think that it speaks volumes of Jon's character and motives for playing the game when you consider the fact we flew halfway across the country to play at Nationals. For him to be play this deck because it was more fun than Blastoise, a deck he had all the cards to play (beaches included), I definitely think Jon came out a winner.

What do you guys think about the deck? Have you ever played a really rogue or goofy deck during a major tournament where there was a lot on the line? Leave a comment below and let us know your story!  Thanks and as always, good luck top decking on those late game N's!


Written by James Good


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