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Alex Olijar

A Metagame Prospectus

In this article, Alex Olijar examines the current state of the metagame, identifies key threats, and breaks down lists for major archetypes to help you prepare for Regionals.

01/26/2015 by Alex Olijar

 

Prelude


A prospectus is an investment document written for investors to learn all vital information before making a financial decision concerning a stock, bond, or other financial instrument. In Pokemon terms, a prospectus is an overarching view of the metagame so that a player, the investor, can decide what instrument (or deck) best suits the situation at hand. I hope this incredibly long prospectus helps you decide somehow what deck to place your money on.


Introduction


City Championships just closed for the season, which means we are all turning our attention to the upcoming winter regionals. Regionals offer the quickest and easiest way to acquire CP towards worlds. Winning a regional is half an invite. While this is not really a viable plan due to the difficulty, it is generally true that without at least one strong regional tournament performance, the road to worlds becomes significantly harder. In this article, I hope to provide an overall perspective on the metagame in the United States, along with suggesting various lists I have tested or collected for some of the biggest players of our metagame to give players a starting point in testing for regionals. Finally, I will provide my own judgements on what I would consider playing heading into regionals.


Winter regionals marks the time when as players we must move our focus from our local metagame to the national and world metagame. During City Championships, the only relevant factor is what your local player base and group is playing. For example, I’ve been writing off the Virizion EX/Genesect EX matchup with all my decks for weeks because almost everyone in my area has stopped playing the deck. Even though the deck is having success elsewhere, I can simply ignore it. When planning for regionals, we can not generally make such a sweeping generalization of the metagame. While we have some information from which to make decisions on how we think the metagame will shake out simply because regionals tends to be a higher level of play (I have a feeling I won’t be playing the Florges EX/Genesect EX deck I saw at cities), it becomes hard to rule out any of the main archetypes when preparing for Regionals.


What we can do is best plan for how prevalent each deck will be, and from that best guess decide what deck we should play or how we should use some free tech space in our deck of choice. Luckily for us, my friend Andrew Wambolt of The Charizard Lounge has been collecting city championship top 4 information for weeks and posting it on his site, enabling us to make educated overall calls about the metagame going into regionals.


The Tier List


To begin, let’s examine the tier list Andrew has constructed based on the results of all city championships across the US and Canada. The tier list is based on a mathematical formula weighting results by performance (Winning is better than getting Top 4) with a recency bias (winning today is more important than winning in December). I took the liberty of making some slight changes to the list published on his site, mostly just to streamline the decks listed for the purposes of our discussion.


Tier S

Yveltal EX


Tier A

Donphan PLS

Seismitoad EX

Aromatisse XY

Virizion EX/Genesect EX


Tier B

Bronzong PHF

M Manectric EX/Fighting

Pyroar


Tier C

M Manectric EX/Yveltal EX

Manectric EX/Seismitoad EX

Night March


Don’t feel bad if your deck seems too low or isn’t listed at all! This tier list is tied on some level to how many people choose to play each deck. Some of the lower tiered decks are very strong, but simply don’t receive enough play to move up the list. That’s where our brains need to take over to make educated decisions. We can’t just rely on the numbers, but they do give us a framework from which to discuss the format.


Based on this tier list, we can pretty much define the main threats in our national metagame as follows:

Yveltal EX

Donphan PLS

Seismitoad EX

Virizion EX + Genesect EX

Manectric EX/M Manectric EX

Aromatisse XY + Max Potion and Attackers

Bronzong PHF + Attackers


For the rest of the article, we will be looking in detail at each main player, along with the secondary pieces and differing lists that make each one a force to be reckoned with.

 


Yveltal EX


Yveltal EX has been a format defining card since the moment it was printed. It’s first attack, Evil Ball, has uncapped damage potential while it’s second attack, Y Cyclone, offers universal 2HKO potential against all non-mega pokemon in the format while simultaneously conserving energy. It’s been a constant player, maintaining dominance in the format even when it lost key contributing cards like Dark Patch and Sableye DEX to rotation after Worlds.


Currently, Yveltal EX is almost universally paired with his baby brother, Yveltal XY. Yveltal XY’s primary attack, Oblivion Wing allows you to mock the ability of Dark Patch while simultaneously dealing 30 damage. Although this slows the deck down a bit and doesn’t offer Dark Patch’s wide array of potential uses mid-to-late game to recover from knockouts, it does offer a reasonable facsimile of Dark Patch in the early game, allowing you to pressure the opponent while simultaneously setting up a Yveltal EX on the bench.


Beyond this base of Yveltal XY, the question then becomes what to pair Yveltal EX with. There are several viable options in our current metagame. Traditionally, Yveltal EX has been played as an aggro deck utilizing additional support such as Darkrai EX, Hypnotoxic Laser, and Muscle Band to maximize damage output. Due the development of our metagame, two additional variants have become prominent. Some players began to pair Yveltal EX with defensive cards such as Hard Charm and Super Scoop Up to take advantage of the slower speed of our current format to deny damage while utilizing Y Cyclone to ensure constant 2HKOs against the large majority of the metagame. This variant has the advantage of a near autowin against Donphan, as placing Hard Charm on a Yveltal XY, when comboed with resistance to fighting, limits a Donphan using Spinning Turn with a Strong Energy and Muscle Band to only 40 damage - a 4HKO - while Yveltal deals 30 damage with Oblivion Wing - enough to knock out Robo Substitute. Finally, some players took advantage of a general metashift towards Yveltal EX and away from Donphan to play Yveltal EX with M Manectric EX. M Manectric EX allows you to have a much stronger mirror matchup while also giving you options to recover mid-game after losing a Yveltal EX. Each of these pairings has merit, and this isn’t even accounting for the largely discarded Yveltal EX/Garbodor pairing.


Let’s beginning by looking at a list for the traditional aggro variant.



I think that the majority of this deck is fairly well understood at this point, so I won’t spend too much time focusing on the main points of it. Instead, let’s look at some of the cards on the margins. One of the great benefits of Yveltal variants is that they typically have a fair bit of space to tech the deck to your choosing.


Head Ringer is a really great add with your free space in Yveltal. It serves a dual purpose. First, by Head Ringering an opposing Pokemon-EX, you are preventing them from attaching a muscle band, which limits damage output. Additionally, due to the extra energy attachment required to attack, you are effectively increasing the damage dealt by Evil Ball by 20.


Darkrai EX and Mewtwo EX provide excellent options to the deck. Darkrai’s ability enables free retreat if your pokemon has a Dark energy attached, and Night Spear enables you to have a way to damage benched Pokemon - which can be key if you use the combination of Muscle Band, Hypnotoxic Laser + Virbank City Gym, and Y Cyclone (or Night Spear itself) to hit for 140 damage only to have the opposing Pokemon retreat. Mewtwo provides an all purpose attacker to diversify your weakness spectrum while attacking with colorless energy. It also provides another one energy attacker with Double Colorless, making it a fairly strong starter.


In a 2HKO format, a healing card for 60 is usually enough to turn a 2HKO into a 3HKO. Pokemon Center Lady functions especially well with Yveltal XY against Donphan. Pokemon Center Lady is better than some of the other healing options due to the versatility it has with VS Seeker. In the same vein, Scramble Switch enables you to move your energy away from a damaged Yveltal EX to a fresh one or to a Darkrai or Mewtwo. Energy Switch serves a similar function. This versatility enables you to control your energy and helps to minimize the damage of potential knockouts.


Now that we’ve seen the aggro version, let’s examine the defensive version.



As you can see, this list looks quite a bit different. It’s dropped the additional damage modifiers like Muscle Band and Hypnotoxic Laser in favor of damage denying cards such as Hard Charm and Scoop Up Cyclone. Let’s look at some of the specific card choices.


Hard Charm provides the backbone for this deck. It reduces the damage a Pokemon takes by 20. This is especially potent against Donphan when combined with Yveltal XY. It becomes tough to do more than 40 damage with Donphan to Yveltal XY - a 4HKO. In the format overall, because so little of the metagame is focused around OHKOs, most decks tend to hit just above the 90 damage threshold to 2HKO. There’s almost no utility added by hitting for 130 as opposed to 100. Thus, even minor damage reduction can be devastating. In this version of Yveltal, Jamming Net is the superior Flare Tool choice in order to further reduce damage. Reducing damage by effectively 40 by also preventing the attachment of Muscle Band, Jamming Net has a ton of synergy with Hard Charm and offers more consistent long term returns than Head Ringer in a tank deck.


Super Scoop Up/Scoop Up Cyclone are what really help to make this deck work. Nothing is nastier to an opponent than picking up a Yveltal with 140 damage on it. Scoop Ups combine perfectly with Y Cyclone. While you swing constantly for 90 damage and 2HKOs, moving various energy to the bench, the active Yveltal EX often has just one energy on it, meaning when you pick up that Yveltal, you are able to immediately bench it and attach the energy back to it - effectively working as a roundabout Max Potion without the energy discard, although you do need to flip heads.


This version of the deck is much slower than the aggro version, and benefits from removing energy via Hammers. Because Evil Ball isn’t a huge focus of the deck, the loss of potential damage isn’t really a big deal, but slowing an opposing deck down is. Limiting your opponents options to attack is very valuable. If you remove all energy from the field and the opponent can only attack with one energy attacks the turn they attach that energy, you can probably tank for quite awhile. The exact split of hammers can be somewhat modified to your meta, but a 3/2 line is generally the most versatile line, as too many enhanced hammers can clog your hands against the wrong decks. A 4/1 Crushing Hammer/Enhanced Hammer line is my personal preferred line, but the 3/2 is more common, so I chose to use that in this list.


Shadow Circle is the sole reason you have a chance against Manectric EX decks. By eliminating weakness, you ensure Yveltal EX can stand against any potential threats and is virtually impossible to OHKO so that you can safely scoop up your Yveltal EXs.


Finally, let’s examine the Manectric EX/Yveltal EX deck that has popped up in various places. In theory, Manectric EX and its respective Mega Evolution allows the deck to have a strong mirror matchup while also providing an option to quickly power up a Yveltal EX akin to what Dark Patches could do mid game.



Flare Tools are actually slightly stronger in this variant due to it’s synergy with Manectric EX’s Assault Laser attack, and so I have bumped it from 2 to 3 copies accordingly. Since this deck is playing Manectric EX and its mega primarily as a side attacker and diversification option, not as a main attacker, the basic 2-2-2 line is sufficient. Yveltal XY’s ability to accelerate energy is somewhat duplicated by M Manectric EX, and because space has to be saved from our original list somehow, reducing the Yveltal XY line to only two makes the most sense.


Shadow Circle is the best option with this version not because Virbank City Gym + Hypnotoxic Laser does not have synergy with Manectric EX, but rather because it takes too much room in the deck. Because of the additional support such as spirit links and lightning energy this deck needs to run to accommodate Manectric EX, Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym become luxury cards. Shadow Circle provides a useful tool to counter true mirror decks and enables you to use Manectric EX against fighting based decks, so it becomes the stadium of choice.


As you can see, one of the primary strengths of Yveltal EX is simple how versatile it is. There’s almost no tournament in which Yveltal is a bad play - the questions is simply which version is best.

 


Donphan PLS


Our next big hitter of the cities format has been Donphan PLS. Originally brought to the forefront by Dylan Bryan at Philadelphia Regionals in the fall, Donphan quickly took over the format for Houston and Ft. Wayne Regionals. Donphan is a very user friendly deck - because Donphan returns to the bench with Spinning Turn, it’s not really that hard of a deck to play at face value. If your attacker never gets attacked, you rarely have to plan turns in advance. You just retreat your walls and so you can Spinning Turn again.


Obviously, Donphan - at least played well - is a lot more complicated than using Spinning Turn and promoting a wall. But, at least in my experience, that’s all that ever really happens against most players. I believe proper utilizing of Wreck is the #1 skill separating good Donphan players and bad Donphan players. Wreck is what really makes Donphan good - being able to OHKO from a non-EX that also has Spinning Turn as protection is pretty insane.


I also happen to believe that most Donphan lists haven’t really caught up with the times. Most people are still utilizing walls such as Sigilyph or Zekrom with Float Stone after Spinning Turn. While this isn’t inherently bad, there is a way to open up much more space in the deck without really sacrificing much of anything. Let’s look at the Donphan list I would play if I were to play the deck today.



The concept is pretty simple - no matter how good your walls are, Robo Substitute is better. Additionally, Hawlucha is really, really good. This list is primarily built to handle the mirror - note the two enhanced hammer to prevent Wrecks - and Yveltal decks. Hawlucha is mean card against Yveltal. It rarely swings for less than 100 damage for only one energy.


As I touched on before, Wreck is easily the best attack in this deck. The ability to OHKO can not be overstated, and every game you should focusing on setting up multiple Donphans to Wreck. Imagine the choices an opponent must face when you have one Donphan with a Fighting and Double Colorless energy attached and another with a Fighting and a Strong. No matter which Donphan is Lysandred, you are still able to wreck with only one energy attachment. The fear this puts in the opponent and the positive board position it can grant you is very, very strong.


Another huge strength to this version of Donphan is that Hawlucha and Robo Substitute both have free retreat - although in Substitute’s case you must discard it to achieve this. By using only cards that don’t require support to retreat (even Donphan just needs one energy attachment to Spinning Turn out of the active spot), you can eliminate Float Stones and Switches. This allows you the space to enhance your consistency line, which enables you to outrun the mirror. Combined with the Enhanced Hammer count, you have been able to effectively counter a deck you should by definition only have a 50/50 matchup against.


The energy line is constructed to allow easily accessible Wrecks without being overly reliant on special energy. Since Wreck is so powerful, we want to ensure we can get to it as easily as possible, so three Double Colorless energy is a bare minimum.Strong Energy is maxed because it’s far and away the best energy in the game. Five Fighiting energy provides a strong backbone against enhanced hammer.


While Donphan is a top tier contender for Regionals, it’s important to remember that it’s tier placement might be misleading. First of all, it acquired the majority of its CP from cities early in the season - before the advent of Yveltal/Hard Charm decks. It was coming off an insane regionals season, and was widely considered the BDIF for a month or two prior to cities. After the format began to correct itself, Donphan has seen much less success. While it shouldn’t be underestimated, you may want to look carefully at the format surrounding Donphan before you choose to play it simply because of its wild success.

 


Seismitoad EX

It’s honestly kind of insane we’ve gotten this far into the article without more than a side reference to what is probably the strongest Pokemon in the game. The power of preventing an opponent from playing item cards is good enough that until Seismitoad was printed, this attack effect was limited to evolved pokemon. Placing it on a basic Pokemon EX on an attack for just a Double Colorless energy is absurdly strong - strong enough that simply by existing, the card has virtually eradicated Rare Candy evolution lines.


With a card this good, the question is simply what to pair it with. In our format, the two main partners that have arisen for Seismitoad EX have been Garbodor, in order to ensure a hard lock of items and abilities, and Slurpuff to provide additional drawing power and enable players to more readily access non-draw supporters.


Before I discuss the two lists I have prepared for these decks, I want to side step to a third variant that I do not have a list for - Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX. This deck is a little bit harder to nail down, as it actually has several sub-variants based on non-EX Pokemon pairings. Seismitoad EX and Manectric EX are compatible in several ways. First, both benefit greatly from Head Ringer. Secondly, M Manectric enables Seismitoads to be quickly powered up if lost mid-game. Lastly, M Manectric and Manectric EX both trade fairly well with Genesect and Virizion, the main deck Seismitoad struggles with.


The question becomes which non-EX to pair these two with. Many players have opted for Driftblim. Driftblim additionally fortifies the matchup against Virizion/Genesect, and is an overall strong attacker against most decks in the current format. Other players have chosen to add Flare Command Pyroar. This additional is a little bit tricker, as it requires even further complication of your energy line, but potentially using a gust effect every turn with Seismitoad EX’s item lock is incredibly strong and probably worth the trouble. Although this version of the deck will still have trouble with Safeguard Pokemon, it also possesses the ability to simply gust around this ability and greatly reduces options of players trying to stall using Safeguard.


Now let’s look at the most common Seismitoad variant traditionally, Seismitoad Garbodor.

 


This deck has a simple and destructive strategy. As it turns out, if you Quaking Punch to lock out items while Garbodor locks out abilities and you play Hypnotoxic Laser, the opponent has to run almost perfectly and always flip heads on sleep checks to win. By so severely limiting options, what this deck lacks in raw power it more than makes up for in the highest level of board control of any deck in the format.


In many ways, you can consider the goal of this deck to create an over reliance on chance for the opponent. With so many flips - Crushing Hammers, the many sleep checks - a lot of the game can come down to chance, and even when it does not, Garbodor and Quaking Punch are still around to prevent the opponent from being able to do much. Many decks succumb simply to the powerful combination of being poisoned and being unable to use items or abilities. Those that do not face the additional layer of also needed some good luck to win.


The counts in this deck are relatively straight forward. A key component of this deck is its toolbox of a supporter lineup. When combined with VS Seeker, Seismitoad EX has many options with which to work, and often can forgo additional drawing to use a disruptive supporter like Team Flare Grunt, or to shuffle a damaged Seismitoad EX into your deck with Cassius. Lysandre’s Trump Card ensures that your lasers and hammers last forever, while Shadow Triad can help fill in the gaps between Trump Cards.


The only other note should be the energy count. Energy is the least important part of this deck. You only ever need a Double Colorless energy to attack. The water energy provide a small out against an opposing Xerosic. If you find yourself needing more energy, you can cut some small pieces of the trainer line such as Battle Compressor, but six should be more than enough. Just remember that this deck is about the long game.


The final variation of Seismitoad is relatively new to the scene. Slurpuff’s ability to draw 1 card per turn (2 if Slurpuff is active) initially seems quite underwhelming, but if you do it three times, it’s kind of like playing Cheren for just some bench space. Since Seismitoad can easily accommodate a lot of bench space, it was a natural pairing. Slurpuff helps ensure you never miss a crucial Double Colorless energy to enable constant Quaking Punches, and also further frees up the supporter used each turn to be of the disruptive variety. The list I have here is based extensively on one provided by Zander Bennett on A Roll of the Dice, so credit to him for posting something publically.



There isn’t too much separating this deck from the previous version, yet it plays out very differently. There probably is not a deck in the current format better equipped to abuse Lysandre’s Trump card than this one. Trump Card is especially powerful because it can often manufacture an opponent’s dead draw if played at an opportune time, whereas with Slurpuff’s draw 1 per turn, you almost never will be without a supporter of some kind.


Because of all the extra drawing in this deck, it’s pretty easy to cut out energy and only play 4 Double Colorless energy. As discussed previously, you really only ever want to use Quaking Punch anyway. This may leave you a little vulnerable to a Xerosic, but let’s be honest, the card isn’t actually all that played or all that good, especially since Quaking Punch locks the opponent out of using VS Seeker, making Xerosic even more impractical. The mirror hitting a Xerosic at the right time could be rough, but you have to take your chances somewhere.


Regardless of what it is paired with, there’s no getting around the fact the Seismitoad is one of the best, if not the best, attacker in the game. If you anticipate a metagame devoid of Virizion/Genesect, Seismitoad could reap you many rewards - and even if you do play Virizion, you can always Head Ringer and Crushing Hammer your way to victory.


For further thoughts on Seismitoad, I highly recommend you check out Andrew Wambolt’s article on The Charizard Lounge.


Virizion EX/Genesect EX


Virizion EX/Genesect EX has pretty much been the most obvious pairing of cards since the two came out. With great energy acceleration, protection from status, and OHKO potential, the deck pretty much has it all. Despite all this, it has begun to lose a ton of popularity this format. In my eyes, the deck hasn’t really changed - but the world around it has. There are more deck options than ever, and with the release of Head Ringer, Virizion EX’s energy cost is becoming even more problematic. However, it’s still the only deck that can say it offers complete type advantage over Seismitoad, and it’s still one of the most consistent decks in the format, so it’s always going to be relevant until it rotates.

 



I won’t go into a ton of detail since there’s nothing too groundbreaking about this list. The pokemon lineup is what I think has become relatively standard. Deoxys is necessary in order to OHKO Donphans, and Drifblim is pretty much the only viable non-EX attacker in this deck (sorry guys, Beartic is pretty terrible). Three Virizion is sufficient - a fourth would just be dead weight end game.


The supporters this deck can utilize varies greatly depending on build. I personally find that I can minimize my Shadow Triad count with the additions of VS Seeker and Lysandre’s Trump Card to the format. Skyla is still necessary to ensure consistent hitting of key resources when necessary.


The items are where this deck can get quite fun. There’s a lot of good options. With Skyla, one Professor’s Letter and Colress Machine can provide clutch resources at key times. With the advent of Head Ringer, four Muscle Band has become necessary - you need to get to them, and they need to get on Virizion EXs as soon as possible. My favorite card in this deck is definitely Energy Switch. Although it’s been abandoned lately, it still provides the easiest way to quickly power up a Genesect EX after using G Booster. I skimped a bit with my switch count - I would really like to have three. Escape Rope is a necessary addition, as it provides another out to avoid getting blocked by a pesky non-EX pokemon. This deck loves the three EX KO to win strategy more than most, so having many outs (2 Lysandre, 4 Plasma Energy + 3 Genesect, and Escape Rope) to skipping around non-Pokemon is very strong.


Although it’s been a bit downtrodden recently, I still think this deck has a lot to offer. The format has begun to get overrun with new and exciting Seismitoad EX variants like Seisimitoad EX/Slurpuff, and Virizion EX is always going to be the best counter to these decks that forego Garbodor - in fact, it could easily be argued that Seismitoad EX players have chosen to forego Garbodor because of Virizion EX’s downfall - which means a smart player can take advantage of the unprepared by using a strong Virizion EX build now that this deck has begun to fall into the less expected category.

 


Manectric EX/M Manectric EX


Throughout the article, we’ve touched on various uses of Manectric EX and M Manectric EX. These two are probably the most versatile attackers in the game, and can pair with pretty much anything if you try hard enough. We’ve previously talked about pairing Manectric EX with Yveltal EX and with Seismitoad EX, so this section had already had some of the thunder taken out of it. There are two more variants to examine though. I have a list with which to discuss Manectric EX/Fighting, and we’ll examine the theory of Manectric EX/Water.



If this list looks familiar, that’s because it is only about two or three cards from the list Andrew Wambolt posted on The Charizard Lounge a month or so ago. There’s a couple different tilts you can take with this deck, but I felt like this list provided a good overall perspective from which to discuss the deck. The advantage of pairing Manectric and Fighting over standard Fighting is the positive gains in the Yveltal EX matchup. Turbo Bolt also creates some additional mid-game options if a key attacker is lost.


The Pokemon lineup is relatively straight forward. No line is especially thick, because this is a bit of a toolbox deck. Hawlucha and Drifblim both offer strong non-ex attacking options, and Drifblim is especially strong against Donphan. Although Manectric EX and M Manectric EX are focal points of the deck, a 2-2-2 line of each and the spirit link is sufficient enough to get it out on a consistent basis. Having too thick a line can damage the Donphan matchup and the mirror.


The great thing about Fighting decks is that being able to viably use Korrina allows for additional outs to first turn supporters. Since we are already playing nine basic pokemon, it also makes sense to include a Jirachi (nine other basics leaves about a 3% chance of starting lone Jirachi). Once we consider all potential options for first turn supporters, Jirachi and Ultra Ball raise our count to 14. With a heavy VS Seeker line and the additional options of Lysandre and Colress for mid-game plays, we should be able to consistently play a strong supporter.


Beyond that, the free space in the deck is utilized to include Enhanced Hammer to increase Drifblim’s viability and Head Ringer to help activate Manectric EX’s Assault Laser as well as help to slow down opposing decks. It especially helps Virizion EX/Genesect EX.


The energy line is a little bit awkward due to wanting to run Strong Energy. Strong Energy isn’t able to be attached to either Manectric EX or Drifblim. With this line, all fighting pokemon and Drifblim have seven outs to usable energy, plus Professor’s Letter. Unfortunately, no matter how we construct this energy line, Manectric EX is going to be a bit of an awkward fit in this version of the deck, but with good play, you should be able to make the most of both Manectric EX and your Fighting attackers.


Manectric EX also pairs very well with water type attackers. Traditional variants typically include Kyurem, Keldeo EX, Mewtwo EX and Black Kyurem EX. The theory of this deck is fairly sound. Manectric EX and M Manectric EX are very sound attackers, and you can often cycle through different M Manectric EX’s due to its free retreat. Since you can can just Turbo Bolt energy previously discard with Max Potion, it can be pretty easy to stream constant M Manectric EX’s when your opponent can’t OHKO them. Since the by far the most common way to OHKO is to abuse its Fighting weakness, it makes sense to pair Manectrics with Water Pokemon, a common weakness of Fighting Pokemon. Since the other common weakness is Psychic, it becomes pretty easy to add a Mewtwo EX to cover that as well. Black Kyurem EX provides an end game trump card to load up and threaten the opposing board with.


Manectric EX is probably one of the most versatile attackers in the game, and because of that, there’s probably a ton of unexplored options that could make sense. It was originally thought that it would pair best with Virizion EX and Genesect EX, and as the format developed, it was discovered that deck kind of sucks. With so many options for creativity, Manectric EX is one of those cards that just begs for all kinds of testing.

 


Aromatisse XY


Now for something completely different! Unlike the previous heavy hitters of the format, Aromatisse doesn’t really hit anything - it only exists to use it’s ability Fairy Transfer to help enable other Pokemon to hit big. After these attackers take damage, Fairy Transfer can relocate the energy in order to use Max Potion for no cost.


There are two main variations of Aromatisse - Aromatechs and Florges. Aromatechs takes advantage of Rainbow Energy to play a diversification of attackers, where as Florges opts for straight Fairy consistency and Florges EX’s ability to 2HKO the format for only two energy to conserve energy while maintaining damage output. Additionally, a third version, AromaToad, has found some success, most notably at the Georgia Marathon. This version is essentially another Seismitoad EX deck utilizing Aromatisse and Max Potion to tank Seismitoads. If you are interested, Kyle Sabelhaus posted a list for this deck that he used to win 3 cities at the GA marathon, but you will need an underground subscription. Otherwise, let’s dive into Aromatechs.



The attacker line I chose is very spread out, but very targeted. Your ideal first attacker is Xerneas XY. Geomancy is a great attack to accelerate some basic Fairy energy to the field to set up future turns. Your additional attackers are very matchup dependant. Mewtwo EX and Yveltal EX provide cheap but hard hitting attackers in all matchups. Suicune can function as a general way and counter to EX focused decks such as Virizion/Genesect (although Red Signal damages this strategy). Suicune also can OHKO water weak pokemon with a Muscle Band attached. Kangaskhan EX and M Kangaskhan EX provide strong attackers in the Metal matchup, while also destroying any Pyroar you run into. Xerneas EX can be used to set up future KOs (which is especially strong in the Donphan matchup) or finish off retreated Pokemon with Break Through. Finally, Shaymin EX provides a general finisher (hitting for 170 after giving up 4 prizes with a Muscle Band attached) with and soft Seismitoad EX counter, as Shaymin KOs Toad if the Toad player has taken just 2 prizes.


There are many options beyond the techs I have chosen in this list. M Manectric EX is a common choice these days - if I were to play M Manectric in my Aromatechs lists, I would definitely make sure to include basic lightning energy, otherwise M Manectric EX will be unable to touch any Aegislash EX an opponent playing metal uses. Sigilyph would also be a reasonable option if you think Mewtwo EX (or Mew EX) will be a prominent player. I’ve even heard of some players adding a basic dark energy or two and playing a slightly heavier Yveltal EX line. A fighting tech, probably Terrakion, also could fit depending how the meta shakes out.


The other version of Aromatisee drops all the techs for the simple consistency of playing only one type of energy. Although without the raw power potential of a tech deck, pure Fairies with Aromatisee do have their advantages.



Until Florges EX’s release, this style of deck would not have been possible. Although Xerneas EX is a very strong attacker, because it requires such heavy energy investment, if it is knocked out due to missing a Max Potion or getting OHKO’d you lose a lot of energy from your field. Florges EX solves this problem, as Bright Garden can hit for up to 140 damage for only two energy. 140 also happens to be a perfect number when paired with the 30 bench damage from Xerneas EX’s Break Through to hit 170, a common EX HP.


This version of fairies also has an extremely strong Dark matchup because of every Pokemon’s resistance to Dark. Some players even play with Klefki in the deck, which increases the dark resistance to -40, making Dark a virtual auto win. However, this is quite overkill, as you already have an extremely strong matchup. Because you only attack with two energy, Evil Ball’s damage is limited, and without Muscle Band, Y Cyclone will only hit for 70. With Aromatisse and Max Potion for support, it’s extremely uphill for the dark player.


You may notice I have chosen not to play Startling Megaphone. At its core, Megaphone is primarily a counter to Garbodor. In a deck that is able to consistently hit for 100 damage, Lysandre becomes a better and more versatile card that is still effectively a Garbodor counter. I would even suggest possibly playing 3 Lysandre if you expect heavy Garbodor in the meta.


The healing line is incredibly heavy. This is for a variety of reasons. First, it become somewhat mandatory to keep an Aromatisse on the field, and thus you often end up using a Max Potion or AZ early in the game to keep Aromatisse around by removing damage a Landorus or other bench attacker has placed. AZ also can switch a Spritzee out of active turn 1 without using an energy attachment, which in very specific situations can be useful.


In a 2HKO format, Aromatisse is a formidable foe - either by taking advantage of a variety of attackers in an attempt to OHKO, or by healing away damage to deny prizes. It’s downfall is its relative lack of speed compared to the format. But, with the right mix and some good pairings, Aromatisse is capable of winning just about any tournament.

 


Bronzong PHF


Our final key player is, like Aromatisse, a support pokemon. The loved Dynamotor ability of Eelektrik returned in Phantom Forces in the guise of Metal Links on Bronzong. Paired with new heavy hitters like Dialga EX, Aegislash EX, and old friends such as Mewtwo EX and Cobalion EX.


Rather than exhaustively cover this deck with a list, I will refer you to Chris Fulop’s excellent deck analysis article. I highly recommend you read this article before continuing, as he’s a lot more intelligent than I am. It may be a bit of a cop out, but given the length of this article as it is, I’m sure you will forgive me.


I will add that while Bronzong is a strong pokemon and has a place in the metagame, the deck has always felt off to me. I think it’s really missing a good attacker to close games. Dialga EX is meant to be this attacker, but it has always underwhelmed me. I’ve found myself gravitating to Mewtwo based variants.


Other Decks


Beyond the decks we have exhaustively covered, I felt it necessary to mention a few decks that have been getting a fair bit of press lately and that deserve to be mentioned quickly.


Night March - This deck is just about the only OHKO option in the format, but it’s also based around 60 HP and under basic pokemon having their attack copied by a 120 HP EX - so you can decide how you feel about that. It’s a good deck for recovering gamblers.


Crobats/(Insert Attacker here) - Crobat has been successfully paired with diverse cards such as Yveltal XY, Landorus EX, and Seismitoad EX among others, and many other options seem to be viable if you work hard enough. The dedicated Psychic version with Mewtwo EX and Wobbuffet PHF probably offers the most consistency and won’t cost you much, but I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that I think that pairing Crobat with Landorus EX is strongest.


Flareon/Slurpuff - A brew concocted in Florida, I must admit I’ve never really understood how this deck as done well other than being piloted by good players. The metadeck has a profile of this deck for those interested.


Pyroar - Everyone’s favorite lion still exists, although with Donphan as one of the best two decks in the format based on results, I’m not really sure why anyone would play a dedicated Pyroar deck in today’s meta.


Plasma (Lugia or Kyurem) - We can sum this one up simply by saying this: Loses to Seismitoad EX. A former giant, this deck just doesn’t have it anymore due to Seismitoad’s ever present grasp on the metagame. Still good in non-Toad meta, it probably can’t be relied upon at Regionals.


Reading the Signs


The information given in this article and the thoughts it has brought forth in you mean nothing if we don’t know how to interpret them. Let’s review what we know has happened so far from my perspective:

1. Donphan entered Cities as a BDIF candidate and lived up to it’s hype initially.

2. Enterprising players created Yveltal EX/Hard Charm decks initially as Donphan counters, but found it had strong general matchups in the meta.

3. Despite Yveltal EX’s strong showing, a dominant Manectric EX or M Manectric EX based deck hasn’t appeared to develop yet.

4. Seismitoad EX has been a heavy presence in the meta, but because of the rapid changes cities are prone to, the most dominant pairing with Seismitoad probably hasn’t been determined.

5. Virizion EX/Genesect EX has probably been underplayed based on popular discussion, yet holds fine matchups against most of the metagame, although only has a dominant matchup against Seismitoad.

6. Pyroar borders on unplayable between M Manectric EX’s existance and Donphan’s dominance.

7. The format is completely wide open without a clear BDIF and with numerous deck able to win tournaments - Kyle “Pooka” Sucevich quipped on a recent video that he isn’t surprised to see any of 20 decks win any given tournament.

So what does all that mean for what you should play at Regionals? It’s actually quite simple. Because we have established that no true BDIF exists, and despite Yveltal EX’s continued prominence, no truly effective counter deck as arisen, I believe the strongest plays for Regionals are a Yveltal EX variant or Virizion EX/Genesect EX.


My logic is simple. In such a long tournament, consistency trumps all, and those decks are the most consistent. Additionally, neither deck has relevant auto losses (sorry Pyroar), excepting any potentially format defining Manectric EX decks. Both decks offer a variety of options. If Seismitoad EX proves to be as popular as PTCGO would seem to indicate, both decks offer sound attacking options against Seismitoad EX.


Those are just my thoughts. Ultimately, you must be the one reading the signs to decide on a deck choice. I hope this prospectus has provided you with a lot of good information from which to discern your Regionals deck choice. I will be attending St. Louis Regionals, so if you see me around, feel free to say hello. I’m always open to meeting new people. If you have any questions or need any additional clarification about my thoughts, comment please. I wrote this over the course of a week, so it’s certainly not as cohesive as I’d like, but my life didn’t allow me to just sit down and write this in one dose. Finally, if you liked this article and it’s helped you prepare for Regionals, please consider logging into 60cards.net and giving it a like. I would really appreciate it! Best of luck at your Regional events!

 

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