I didn't choose the bat life, the bat life chose me
In this article, Alex Olijar debuts on 60cards.net to discuss a new concoction he's been testing, Landorus/Crobat.
12/27/2014 by Alex Olijar
Welcome one and all to my first article for this site. We're going to discuss a deck I've been putting quite a bit of time into that might be just interesting enough for you to want to play at your future City or Regional Championships. I firmly believe in the power of Landorus paired with Crobats. We're going to discuss the deck's origin story, it's initial testing phases, review my current list, and then examine how it fits into the metagame as a whole.
Landorus/Crobat was born when I began to read up and discuss the Seismitoad EX/Crobat deck that made a strong showing in California and some other areas. It had been getting decent press on a few forums I visit, but the deck just never made sense to me. While I understand the theory of pairing the two cards due to Seismitoad EX's somewhat limitied damage output, it seemed very counter intutive to me to take up so much space in a deck that was obviously a lock based deck - the point of the deck is to slow the game down so that the damage output doesn't matter.
In my mind, there were a few keys to Crobat that would enable it to fit into a successful deck. First, because it can place damage anywhere, it is extremely potent with bench damage. The most common unit of bench damage is 30 (Kyurem, Landorus, Darkrai), which, when combined with Golbat's 20 damage, creates some strong pressure and early KOs on Spritzee and Bronzor, two relatively meta cards worth having a plan for. Additionally, the same 30 damage with 20 from Golbat and 30 from Crobat KOs a Phanpy, which although somewhat harder because the damage required most likely spans two turns, represents strong pressure against an otherwise difficult to hit Pokemon. Secondly, Crobat is very strong at helping you hit specific numbers in order to reach OHKO and/or 2HKO damage. This is why it gets played with Seismitoad EX - the 20 from Golbat with two muscle banded Quaking Punchings and two turns of Hypnotoxic Laser/Virbank City damage turns lets you KO a turn faster - with Crobat having the ability to subsitute if you missed a turn of Hynotoxic Laser.
However, it seems obvious to me that Crobat would provide much more utility overall when paired with Landorus EX. With Fighting Stadium, Strong Energy, and Muscle Band, Landorus EX is able to acheive the magical 90 damage to perfectly 2HKO any non-mega EX in the format for one energy. Additionally, Hammerhead does 30 damage to one benched Pokemon. One of the main problems with Landorus EX in the past format was that you needed to have all 3 of these cards in order to hit the magic 90 damage. If you missed one, you often forced yourself to overdamage an active EX Pokemon, which is not ideal and wastes an additional turn, or potentially an additional resource (Lysandre) to move the Pokemon to the bench to have more efficient damaging.
The Crobat line solves these problems. Golbat is able to subsitute 20 damage into the equation, which makes it substantially easier to reach 180 damage in two turns. You can hit 2/3 of your damage increases, then next turn just hit a Golbat and find the third in order to still cleanly 2HKO. Crobat provides similar insurance, but is more unique to 170 HP EXs. With Crobat, you only need to hit the 70 damage threshold to cleanly 2HKO a 170 EX - 70 + 70 + 30 from Crobat reaches the threshold. This is in additional to the bench KO math I mentioned above. There's countless iterations of math you could find in play over the course of playing with the deck.
Once I made these math realizations, I began to create my list. I chose to play with a 4-4-3 Crobat line, and I have not to this point ever wanted or needed a third Crobat. It's hard enough to get all 3 into play. As my main attacker, I chose to play 3 Landorus EX. My supporter line has been relatively standard, but slightly slimmed down - we can discuss more closely my supporter line in the deck list section. I decided that since I mainly wanted to use one energy attacks, 8 energy with a Professor's Letter would be enough. I tossed in various non-EX fighting attackers to test out (including Landorus FFI, Terrakion BCR, and Hawlucha FFI at various points).
My problem was that there's a lot of potential add-ins to this deck core of Landorus and Crobat. In this section, I'm primarily to going to focus on those that did not work out for me. In the next section where we will disect my current list, I will address some specifics of the cards I have chosen to play.
Most Crobat decks I've seen (specifically the Wobbats version which pairs Crobat with Wobbuffet), AZ is a key card. It's often played in multiples to help reuse Bats and even as prize denial. This would seem to pair naturally with my one energy main attacker. However, it's simply unneeded. I'm not using Bats as a primary damage source - they are an auxillary damage source. I'm much more interested in maintaining a consistent deck than using 1-2 AZ's when I am able to do damage just fine without reusing Bats. Because the deck is less reliant on Bats, I provide them less support.
Terrakion and Landorus FFI both fit relatively well into the deck. Landorus provided a recovering option that the deck definitely lacks, however, he simply added nothing to the numbers of the deck and I often found myself not even really ever wanting him in play. I ultimately cut him for an additional energy. Terrakion provided a more complex issue. His damage output was excellent and his high HP on a non-EX Pokemon was definitely appreciated. However, his two energy attack cost was not. He was ultimately cut because his contributions, while unique, could be adequately replaced by powering up a Land's Judgement, which was probably better in the long run anyway in most games due to it's more reliable OHKO potential.
Xerosic is probably the card that has been toughest to decide one. It offers a lot of utility in this deck, as Head Ringer is obviously a huge enemy of one energy attacks, and Xerosic is the only reliable way to counter a Seismitoad EX/Garbodor pairing, one of the worst matchups for Landorus/Crobat. Discarding special energy gave it additional utility in other games. However, it doesn't move the needle enough against Seismitoad EX/Garbodor, and so was ultimately cut to have space for more consistency in all matchups.
The Deck List
- 3x Landorus EX
- 4x Zubat
- 4x Golbat
- 3x Crobat
- 2x Lucario EX
- 1x Hawlucha
- 2x Colress
- 1x Lysandre
- 3x VS Seeker
- 3x Fighting Stadium
- 4x Muscle Band
- 3x Ultra Ball
- 2x Switch
- 1x Computer Search
- 1x Escape Rope
- 2x Bicycle
- 1x Startling Megaphone
- 1x Professor's Letter
- 4x Professor Juniper
- 3x N-supporter
- 3x Korrina
- 5x Fighting Energy
- 4x Strong Energy
This is my current list. Let's discuss some of the things that stick out.
Lucario EX is a card I haven't mentioned at all up until this point, yet I am playing two copies. Lucario EX is very valubale in the Yveltal matchup in additional to diversifying my attacker pool to better handle Seismitoad EX. Because Lucario EX's Missile Jab ignores resistance, Lucario is able to snag the clean 2HKOs against Yveltal EX that Landorus EX would miss due to resistance. Additionally, Lucario is a strong T1 pressure attacker against an active EX because of the multitude of ways I am able to reach 2HKO status with the addition of Corkscrew Punch. Lucario reaches 90 damage in two base attacks with Missile Jab followed by Corkscrew Punch. To KO a 170 HP EX, you must add an additional 80 damage during either of those two turns - considering how many ways you have to add damage, it's not hard to do even if you start with simply a base 30. Corkscrew Punch also offers some nice draw power late game against N.
As I said above, my supporter line is a little bit trimmed up in order to make all these cards fit. I cut from my N line as I imagine this deck to be a quick strike deck, thus nullifying N's advantages to me early on. Korrina is truly only necessary in the early game, so going down to 3 isn't too harmful. You nearly always want to play a full lineup of Junipers, and because it's so advantageous to play bicycles with Korrina, I only had space for 2 colress in my predetermined 14 consistency card limit. I could see this line being beefed up in some places, I'm just not totally sure what to cut - perhaps a VS Seeker, which I currently play 3 of, because reusing Lysandre is simply too good.
I believe that covers most of the interesting card choices, so let's examine how this deck fits into the greater metagame.
Landorus/Crobat has a somewhat awkward fit into the current metagame. Because Landorus shares many attributes with the relatively undisputed BDIF Donphan, Landorus is being inadvertently countered by many players attempting to counter Donphan - most notably Yveltal/Hard Charm. While these players probably aren't too concerned with Landorus when they build their deck, Landorus has a ton of issues because of their existance.
Here is an extremely oversimplified numeric view of Landorus/Crobat against some common decks:
Toad Variants: 40-60 (closer to 30-70 with Garbodor)
This matchup isn't as bad as you think, but it takes a lot of gymnastics. Garbodor tilts the matchup a lot because not having Bat damage takes your damage output down too low considering your probably lack of Muscle Bands. A heavy Lysandre count is also death to you, as you most likely will be needing to use a Landorus or two to try to KO Garbodor or Trubbish if you are able to with Bat Damage (via Xerosic if played or prior to a tool attachment) and thus Landorus will not be safe on the bench after serving this purpose.
Manectric Variants: 70-30
There's not too much to say here - Manectric as energy acceleration is generally a free 2 prizes. Head Ringer variants pose more problems, but with type advantage, you can usually overcome them fairly easily.
Virizion/Genesect: 80-20 (probably even higher)
This is easily the best matchup. Virizion takes two energy to attack and thus is hopefully always a turn behind you in damage, all of your attackers can damage for one energy, and every pokemon in the deck has only 170 HP, the easiest key number to hit with any combination of your various damage additions. G-Booster is often choreographed, and you can control which Landorus goes down to it while returning a KO.
Tough to handle, especially if they play Hammers. This deck pairs virtually all of your soft or hard counters. Heavily lean on Lucario EX to find success. The key to winning is having key turns with the ability to place damage in the right places by using Startling Megaphone well. This matchup can be improved somewhat with Xerosic, an additional Megaphone, a higher count of Hawlucha, and Dowsing Machine.
Yveltal/Hard Charm: 30-70
This is an extremely hard matchup due to the heavy prevalance of healing via Super Scoop Up and the lack of damage output friom Landorus. I advise leaning heavily on Hawlucha and Lucario EX, but you are mostly likely fighting an uphill battle - especially if the player it in an Enhanced Hammer or two.
Fighting variants: 70-30
This is generally a strong matchup as you playing virtually identical decks, except yours is much more consistent at hitting key damage numbers. Garbodor variants provide a challenge, but that challenge is minor without being paired with Seismitoad EX's item lock. Fighting decks also tend to play out in linear patterns, making it much easier to place damage.
Donphan has a ton of issues with this deck for a variety of reasons. Because of Bats, no pokemon is safe, and you have easy counters to Sigilyph and Robo Subs (with Crobat). Donphan itself is never safe on the bench and is susceptible to a variety of different math permutations with Bats and attacks. If they start with Dedenne, you get a prize for free. Crobat itself is a perfect Donphan counter and can also provide another way to hit Donphan on the bench.
You have too many ways to apply pressure on benched Bronzors. Dialga EX has issues hitting 180 HP EXs with OHKOs. Chrono Wind is the best counter in the deck, but most players don't realize this and focus on taking KOs against you. Even if they do, you play 3 switching cards and have other ways to damage. Additionally, without Bronzong, this deck is just not very good, and Landorus/Crobat is among the best at denying Bronzong.
You have too many ways to create pressure on benched Spritzees. Without Max Potion, the deck is forced to trade with you in very awkward ways.
Landorus/Crobat is a unique deck that has a place in the current metagame. Although it struggles with Yveltal EX decks that are rising to prominence to counter Donphan, as the metagame heads towards Regionals, if Yveltal EX continues to rise, Manectric will inevitably follow it as a counter, creating a diversifying metagame in which Landorus/Crobat is poised to succeed. Landorus/Crobat provide relatively strong matchups against many Tier 2/3 decks, while maintaining a strong matchup against the relatively undisputed BDIF Donphan, allowing it to fit into a niche in the metagame.
Thanks for reading, and if you liked this article, please let me know. You are welcome to add me on Facebook to ask any further questions about this deck, and I wish you success in your future City and Regional Championships.
This article is part of the #WRITEYOURWAYTOWORLDSWITH60CARDS! Competition.
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