"We Three Kings" - An In-Depth Look at How the Top Three Meta Decks Match Up Against Each Other
Grant analyzes the matchups between the top decks of the Standard format, as well as what strategies to use against the meta decks.
06/29/2016 by Grant Manley
Hello 60Cards! My name is Grant Manley and I'm here to talk about the Standard metagame and how it applies to the upcoming National Championships. First though, allow me to introduce myself. I'm a competitive TCG player from North Carolina and this is my first article here on 60Cards (besides a blog entry that I posted awhile ago). As far as tournaments go, I've had high placings at every level of tournament play and prefer to use odd decks whenever I can. I am excited to be writing here and I hope you all enjoy my debut article!
The three decks that I will discuss in this article are: Night March, Greninja, and Trevenant. These are three of the top decks that have been performing well in Standard and they are what I expect to see played at Nationals. In order to do well at Nationals, it is crucial to understand each of these decks and how the decks interact with each other. This is important regardless of whether or not you play one of these decks. You must understand the strengths, weaknesses, and matchups of each of the top decks. Other decks that will see some play are Darkrai/Giratina, Seismitoad/Manaphy, Vespiquen/Vileplume, and Metal variants.
This article is going to be focused on each of the top three decks and their respective matchups against each other. I am going to examine each matchup through the point of view of each deck. For example, when I reach Night March vs. Greninja, I'm going to talk about the things you should look out for and the strategies to use when playing Night March. Conversely, in Greninja vs. Night March, I'm going to do the opposite and dissect the matchup from the standpoint of the Greninja player. I have extensive practice and knowledge of nearly every single matchup through testing. I hope that some of this advice will improve your understanding of the metagame and aid you in preparation for whatever tournaments you have ahead of you.
You either love it or you hate it, but either way, Night March is here to stay. Night March has been a Standard mainstay almost since its inception. Whether you play Night March or play against it, it's important to understand how this deck does what it does. The basic strategy of dumping multiple Night March Pokémon and swinging for whatever amount of damage you need is just too strong. Night March simply starts killing things as soon as it's able to attack, and it does this job more efficiently than any other deck in the format. Its raw beatdown abilities make the deck predictable and linear, but it has a chance to take down anything and everything in its path.
The Night March Mirror
What has become the most frequent mirror match of this season is also one of the most degenerate. Night March mirrors devolve into a slug fest and games will almost always be completed in six turns or less. However, over the past year, certain tricks have emerged to give Night March players an edge in the mirror match.
The first and most basic thing to do in the mirror match is to go second. This will allow you to take the first knockout against Night March and it puts you ahead in the prize trade from the get-go. In most other matchups you should opt to go first though, even if you don't know what your opponent is playing. However, if you know that you are about to play a Night March mirror, take any opportunity you have to go second. If you do go first though, you might want to try using Hex Maniac to stall your opponent's setup process.
The most common strategy as far as gameplay in the Night March mirror is to target down opposing Shaymin-EX. Night March mirrors revolve all around Shaymin. Since Shaymin yields two Prizes from being knocked out, it is important to use Lysandre on opposing Shaymin whenever possible. Your goal is simply to take six Prizes before your opponent, and killing Shaymin helps with this goal. On the other hand, avoid benching any Shaymin of your own. Sometimes you are forced to play down Shaymin in order to draw necessary cards to use Night March, and that is ok. Just don't use Shaymin unless you absolutely have to.
The next step to winning the mirror is to capitalize on when your opponent does have to play Shaymin. For this reason, players avoid attacking with Joltik in the mirror match. If you attack with a Joltik that doesn't have Fighting Fury Belt attached, an opposing Shaymin can attack with Sky Return. You never want your opponent to take knockouts with Shaymin, as that removes the valuable target from play and it also saves your opponent a Double Colorless Energy. Always keep your eye out for opportunities that YOU may have to take knockouts with Shaymin-EX. Pumpkaboo and Mew are your go-to attackers for the mirror match.
Now that we've gone over basic strategies for the mirror match, you might want to consider some tech cards. Target Whistle is hands-down the most talked about tech card for Night March, and it basically is a staple. Target Whistle can revive an opposing Shaymin-EX, so that it's not even safe in the Discard! A strong strategy in the mirror match is to use Target Whistle on Shaymin during the same turn that you have the opportunity to use Lysandre on it. This results in two easy Prizes, and it is a neat combo that can be reused with Puzzle of Time.
Another tech card that you might want to include is Pokémon Catcher. I'd recommend one or two of these. It only works if you flip heads, but it is worth the risk. Pokémon Catcher works as an extra out to Lysandre plays that are so important in the mirror match. Sometimes you cannot get Lysandre right when you need it, and sometimes you just have to play a different Supporter on a given turn. Pokémon Catcher, while requiring a flip, actually improves the consistency with which you can pull off Shaymin-KO plays.
The final two tech cards I want to discuss involve messing with Stadiums. Since your opponent will prioritize having Pumpkaboo as their attacker, they will also rely on Dimension Valley. If your opponent is running low on remaining Joltik and Dimension Valleys, you can drop a surprise copy of Parallel City. Parallel City can potentially lock your opponent out of attacking with Pumpkaboo. This helpful tech actually won me a Top 8 match in a City while playing the Night March mirror. Keep in mind that this limits your ability to use your own Pumpkaboo as well, so have a Mew and some Joltik handy if you decide to play this card.
Parallel City has other uses too. It can be used to turn the blue side towards yourself, which can allow you to discard any Shaymin-EX you may have had to play. Since you can only have 3 Benched Pokémon with Parallel City, your opponent will be unable to use Target Whistle without first bumping your Parallel City with Dimension Valley. This makes it difficult for them to pull off a Shaymin-KO combo. It forces your opponent to find Dimension Valley, Target Whistle, and Lysandre. They must do all of that in one turn and exclusively in that order.
The final trick for the mirror match that I want to go over is Barbaracle from Fates Collide. Barbaracle has an Ability that prevents your opponent from playing any Special Energy cards from their hand as long as you have a Stadium card in play. Thus, if you play Dimension Valley before your opponent does, they will probably not be able to bump it and the barnacle lock will remain in effect for the entire game. Even though your opponent can play Hex Maniac a few times to get around Barbaracle, they won't be able to do that enough to win the game. I'd recommend trying out one Barbaracle and one Archie's Ace in the Hole, but you could run a Binacle instead of Archie's if you wanted to.
Night March vs. Greninja
Night March vs. Greninja is a tricky matchup that can go either way. You absolutely cannot afford to miss a beat against Greninja. Night March's only advantage is its early aggression, and it has to attack constantly to contend with Greninja. While Greninja is slightly favored in this matchup, it is certainly winnable for Night March. You should be able to take at least two prize cards before Greninja even starts attacking. Then you can simply KO Greninja after Greninja and it is sometimes difficult for them to stream Greninja after each KO.
Hex Maniac is a crucial card in this matchup. You must be able to use Hex Maniac when you think your opponent is about to use Giant Water Shuriken. If you can never turn off Greninja's Abilities, they will be able to take multiple knockouts on each turn once they're set up. Hex Maniac is the only thing stopping Greninja from recovering from its early prize deficit. In a nutshell, if you take knockouts every turn and play a Hex Maniac every now and then, you should win.
However, it gets a little more complicated than that. Most Greninja lists now run 2 or 3 copies of Jirachi XY67. Jirachi is an effective attacker because with just one attack, Stardust removes one-fourth of your entire energy supply. Jirachi can attack for one Energy, and it is easy for Greninja to transition into it after you Hex them. Jirachi makes itself invulnerable on your next turn, which puts you into a lose-lose situation. If you just pass and wait out Jirachi's effect, that gives the Greninja player an extra turn to set up and use Water Shurikens. If you Lysandre around Jirachi to KO something that isn't invincible, you open yourself up for another Stardust. Then you are suddenly down half of your Energies.
Assuming you can consistently attack and occasionally Hex, the only real obstacle is Jirachi. So what can we do about that? One tech that most Night March decks include nowadays is Escape Rope. You can use Escape Rope to force Jirachi to the bench, and that removes its invincibility effect. You can potentially follow that up with a Lysandre on Jirachi and KO it with Night March. Escape Rope has other random uses too, so you may as well include at least one in your list. This isn't an amazing counter to Jirachi, but it can do the job and you might find yourself needing to do the Rope + Lysandre play sometimes. At the very least, Rope mitigates the lose-lose dilemma that Jirachi presents.
One of the best anti-Jirachi techs is Bent Spoon. Bent Spoon completely blocks Stardust (besides the 10 damage) and it makes the Greninja matchup much more manageable. While Fighting Fury Belt makes it more difficult for Greninja to kill Pumpkaboo, Bent Spoon is overall better for this matchup because it completely nullifies one of Greninja's best tools against Night March. Additionally, it blocks Froakie's Bubble. This is actually very relevant when you are going first, because usually Froakie will try to paralyze your Active Pokémon on Turn 1. Another small thing is that a Mew FCO or Gallade BKT with Bent Spoon retains its Ability after Shadow Stitching.
Speaking of Gallade, the Blade Pokémon happens to be fantastic in this matchup. Aside from the obvious consistency benefits of Premonition, Gallade is the bulkiest Pokémon in the deck. It's got 150 HP as a 1-Prize attacker, and it forces Greninja to expend considerable effort in dealing with it. Sensitive Blade does exactly 130 damage, which is enough to OHKO Greninja if it hasn't BREAK evolved yet. Premonition also helps stream Hex Maniac. Definitely go for the Maxie's Gallade play whenever you can.
An interesting tech for this matchup is Parallel City. Parallel City has a plethora of uses which were mentioned in the Night March mirror section. If you choose to run it, it also has a bit of utility in the Greninja matchup. You can use it with the red side towards Greninja to reduce its damage, but giving them the blue side is usually better. That way, the Greninja player can only have four Pokémon in play. By Turn 2, the optimal four Pokémon are four Frogadier. This means no extra Froakie for later, no Jirachi, and no Octillery. The Greninja player must strike a precarious balance between all of their Pokémon. If they want Jirachi, that means sacrificing a precious bench space. Parallel City punishes players for benching multiple Pokémon very early in the game. Water Duplicates becomes much less powerful when there isn't enough Bench space to get all of the Frogadier.
Oddly enough, a Night March variant with Octillery won a European National tournament. Octillery is helpful in the mirror and the Greninja matchup even though I didn't include it in the above section. In fact, I'd argue that Octillery is a lot more important against Greninja than it is against the mirror. Greninja players typically will bombard you with N and Ace Trainer, and Octillery allows you to consistently draw out of low-hand situations. This is perfect for maintaining momentum against Greninja, which is extremely important as I mentioned earlier.
Garbodor is an interesting tech that's been seeing a little bit of play recently. You can splash a 1-1 line into Night March and add a Float Stone to help it deal with Greninja. I've played with it a little, and it doesn't make the matchup an auto-win, but it certainly helps. Being able to stick a Float Stone on Garb and not worrying about Hex chaining is great. It hurts your consistency a little bit by blocking Shaymin, but at the same time it improves consistency too. This is because you can use other Supporters instead of relying on Hex Maniac.
Night March vs. Trevenant
This is viewed as an unfavorable matchup for Night March, but tournament results still show that Night March is able to win this matchup a healthy percent of the time. Unfortunately, there is a lot of luck involved in this matchup. The way the game goes usually depends on how various early-game scenarios play out.
For example, if the Trevenant player goes first and gets a T1 Wally, the game could be over right there. Unless you start with Sycamore, a bunch of Night Marchers, and a DCE, the game might just be over before it begins. Starting Lysandre should be okay as well, because it forces Trevenant to the Bench and allows Item usage. Hex Maniac is good for that too, but it shuts off Shaymin-EX, which in turn makes Ultra Ball very weak. If your opponent doesn't run Head Ringer or if they are careless with Head Ringer, you can use Sky Return endlessly until you win, as Trevenant has a hard time dealing with that. For the most part though, if you go second to a T1 Wally, your odds of winning diminish significantly.
Now what happens if Trevenant goes first and whiffs Wally? Then you've got yourself a free turn before you're Item locked, so you obviously want to play as many Item cards as you can. This is pretty basic. You want to Compressor away around 7 or 8 Night Marchers, and avoid Benching too many Pokémon. You want to do everything you can to nerf Silent Fear. Only play Pokémon on your Bench when you need to promote something for next turn or are about to use Shaymin/Sycamore. If you're able to simply string attacks together amidst Item lock, you will be in good shape.
If you go first, you can expect an Ascension from Phantump on Trevenant's first turn. In this scenario, you also want to play as many Items as you can to lessen the impact of Forest's Curse. Thinning your deck will improve your odds of your deck keeping its stability under Item lock. If you can take KO after KO, Trevenant will eventually collapse and will be unable to stream attacks. You can clean up from there. Night March is the more consistent deck, but that advantage is somewhat evened by Trevenant's Item lock.
Lysandre is an important card in this matchup, and you must use it intelligently. You don't want to use Lysandre on Shaymin just because you can. Save it for when you really need to use a specific Item, or to go around Bursting Balloon. Also be careful of Wobbuffet. If Trevenant is Active, you cannot use Items, and if Wobbuffet is Active, you cannot use Abilities. Basically, you must resign yourself to the fact that you will probably never use Ultra Ball for Shaymin for Set Up, except maybe on your first turn. If you use Hex Maniac to allow Items, you can Ultra Ball for Shaymin, but you must wait a turn before using it due to your own Hex.
If you remember the general points of this matchup, it is quite simple. Thin your deck, use Items as much as you can, try and take consecutive KO's, and Lysandre intelligently. One thing to note is that taking an OHKO on a Trevenant BREAK is usually worth the cost of suffering a knockout to Bursting Balloon. Also be incredibly careful with benching Joltik, as it will be knocked out by Silent Fear's spread damage.
As for techs, there aren't many super effective ones to use against Trevenant. Fighting Fury Belt and Lysandre are great against it, but those are standard inclusions. Maybe a Xerosic would be worth including. It can remove Mystery Energy, Float Stone, Bursting Balloon, and Head Ringer. These are all influential cards in the matchup. The Garbodor tech that I mentioned earlier could help too. However it would be difficult to get out consistently. You'd have to find Trubbish and Float Stone on T1, and then draw into Garbodor under Item lock.
Another idea is Bent Spoon. I'm not quite sure if it's better than Fury Belt, but it has merit in that it completely blocks Silent Fear. This saves Joltik and makes it a legitimate option in the matchup. It either forces Trevenant to invest two Energy attachments to attack with Tree Slam, or makes it settle for a weaker Silent Fear. Unfortunately, Bent Spoon is an Item, so it's restricted by Trevenant.
To wrap it all up, here's my personal Night March list for Standard.
- 4x Joltik
- 4x Pumpkaboo
- 4x Lampent
- 3x Shaymin EX
- 1x Mew
- 1x Gallade
- 1x Marowak
- 1x Hex Maniac
- 1x N-supporter
- 1x Lysandre
- 1x Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick
- 3x Professor Sycamore
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Puzzle of Time
- 4x Trainer's Mail
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Battle Compressor
- 2x Pokemon Catcher
- 1x Target Whistle
- 2x Bent Spoon
- 1x Town Map
- 1x Escape Rope
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Startling Megaphone
- 2x Dimension Valley
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
There's not much special about it besides Pokémon Catcher, Bent Spoon, and Marowak FCO. These aren't even that weird. Marowak is a necessity with the recent rise of Seismitoad-EX in WaterBox and Giratina-EX in Dark/Garb. Bent Spoon I've already explained. Pokémon Catcher is just incredibly strong in Night March right now. A Lysandre for a flip just works so well with the deck. If you're looking for extra spaces though, I'd have to say that Catcher is one of the first cuts I'd make. I went the Bent Spoon route for now, but all the other techs and tricky cards I mentioned are certainly worth including and trying out.
After Greninja's massive flop at the Origins Game Fair, many are unsure where that leaves it heading into Nationals. Make no mistake, Greninja is still a top tier threat. It is nearly unstoppable once set up, and the reintroduction of N into the Standard format adds a new layer of consistency to this fearsome deck. While Greninja didn't do well at Origins, that is merely one 60-person tournament. Its results at States and international Nationals speak for themselves, so you'd better prepare for it.
Greninja vs. Night March
This is a favorable matchup for Greninja, but as I've explained, it can go either way. One thing that I don't think anyone has considered is actually going second in this matchup. Even if you go first, Night March will still take its second KO after you use Water Duplicates. Going second, only one thing changes. You can possible use Bubble to deny a Prize. Typically, this will force the Night March player into a tough spot. They will have to find their lone copy of Escape Rope (in most lists) just to be able to attack normally. This is a simple way to possibly prevent an easy Prize, but be wary of doing this if you think your opponent runs Bent Spoon.
In this matchup you want to go with Ninja's normal gameplan. On T2 use Water Duplicates and start getting as many Greninja as possible on T3. Good times to shift into Jirachi would be right after opposing Hex plays and when you are having difficulty streaming Greninja. Oftentimes, Stardust is just as effective as a knockout because they both get rid of precious DCEs. As I've said, Stardust forces a lose-lose situation for Night March, so it's a tool that you want to abuse in this matchup.
Ace Trainer is another fantastic card that you want to use to its maximum potential. If you happen to have Ace Trainer handy after Night March's first knockout, you can bring their hand down to only 3 cards! This is much better than N early game. One interesting combo to use mid- or late-game is to use Ace Trainer or a low-card N and follow it up with Shadow Stitching. If your opponent has no Energies on the board, they may very well just dead draw because they cannot use Shaymin.
There are no techs that I'd add to Greninja to help with Night March except possibly Startling Megaphone. Megaphone can make it easier to KO the Marchers with Shurikens by removing Fury Belt. It also removes Bent Spoon if your opponent tries to counter Jirachi. Greninja naturally does well against Night March, so you don't need to tech too much for it. Just try to use Jirachi, Ace Trainer, and Shurikens correctly and you should do fine.
The Greninja Mirror
The Greninja mirror is arguable as degenerate as the Night March mirror, but it is way more boring. Typically the Greninja players will both set up multiple Greninja and use Shadow Stitching endlessly to block each other's Shurikens. One of the players will eventually play Rough Seas, so they can both cycle between Greninja and heal the damage from Shadow Stitching. This results in an unbreakable stalemate until one of the players decks out. Just don't play Octillery down! It will become a major liability as a Lysandre target because it can't use Shadow Stitching!
The only real way to give yourself an edge in this matchup is to add techs. First up is Delinquent. Delinquent removes Rough Seas from play. After you use Rough Seas, you can use Delinquent to put yourself slightly ahead in the damage exchange. Unfortunately, if your opponent has plenty of Rough Seas left, you will need to burn VS Seekers in order to retain the upper hand. This is still worthwhile though, as you will discard many cards from your opponent's hand in the process. This leaves them with less cards to shuffle in with N, and so they will deck out first.
Another idea is to use Durant FLF. Durant's Chip Off lets you randomly discard your opponent's hand down to four cards. This can be great for getting rid of crucial resources and it might just make your opponent deck out first if they aren't careful. Durant has a few downsides though. Starting Durant is a travesty, and that will happen occasionally without many Basics. Also, Chip Off is not Shadow Stitching, so your opponent might just blow up your board with Shurikens. I have only played a little bit with Durant, and it is okay.
The best tech for the mirror match is Bent Spoon. Bent Spoon protects Greninja BREAK from Shadow Stitching, decidedly giving you an advantage. I'd run at least two Bent Spoon in Greninja for the mirror match. Just be careful about playing more than one at a time, because your opponent might play Startling Megaphone to ruin this strategy.
Greninja vs. Trevenant
Now that Greninja has N at its disposal, the Trevenant matchup is better than it was in Standard. This is because Greninja has more draw cards that can be used under Item lock. The normal strategy works here, and you just have to hope you get decent luck and don't get stuck with a bunch of Items. While it would be nice to win the Stadium war, you have to accept that it probably won't happen. You ideally want to use Rough Seas early game, just to alleviate Silent Fear pressure and to allow you to set up. Do not play down Rough Seas until you have to, as it is a pivotal card in this matchup but can easily be bumped by Dimension Valley.
Greninja does much better against the Trevenant variant that doesn't run Bursting Balloon but runs Hammers instead. Hammers are almost entirely worthless against Greninja while Bursting Balloon is a dangerous source of damage. Both variants are favorable for Greninja though. Trevenant simply doesn't do enough damage to keep up with Greninja and its Shurikens.
As for techs, the first thing that comes to mind is more Supporters. More supporters equals more resiliency to Item lock. Maxing counts of N and Sycamore is something that I'd recommend anyway, and doing so really helps against Trevenant. Upping the Lysandre count would also be helpful in this matchup, as it gets around Item lock and Bursting Balloon.
You could try including Bronzong FCO. While Bronzong is on the Bench, it basically makes Trevenant useless by blocking Silent Fear and Tree Slam's snipe damage. The only thing Trevenant can do for damage is Tree Slam for 60 and maybe use Bursting Balloon. Unfortunately, Bronzong becomes a devastating target for Lysandre, so you'd want something to pull it from the Active. Float Stone attached before Item lock is an option, as is Olympia.
Finally we reach our Item lock deck. While Trevenant may have perceived bad matchups against quite a few decks, its unique traits can win games against even the most threatening foes. Item lock, as we all know, can steal games from the very first turn. If at any point your opponent finds themselves stuck with Items, Trevenant will almost always win. The option to lock T1 going first with Wally strikes fear into all players, no matter what deck they're playing. Silent Fear is also a fantastic attack combined with Item lock and Lysandre.
Trevenant vs. Night March
Night March is a favorable matchup for Trevenant, especially if you go first and get the Wally. If you go first and cannot find Wally, then Wobbuffet is a great card to have in the Active against Night March. At the very least, you will stall their setup process by blocking Abilities, even though Item lock is ideal. The Bursting Balloon variant is superior for this matchup, and Red Card helps even more. I don't think Hammers are effective because knockouts will remove all of Night March's Energies anyway. Obviously Weakness Policy is rather null as well, barring odd Pumpkaboo vs. Wobbuffet and Joltik vs. Shaymin situations.
If you go second, then Wobbuffet is the optimal starter. Do not play Dimension Valley down prematurely, as Night March wants to attack with only Pumpkaboo, and sometimes they cannot find Valley right away. Outside of starting with it, Wobbuffet is not great to use in this matchup. Continuous Item lock is definitely the way to go. You should strive to have a board position with only Trevenant and its BREAK. This way, Night March cannot Lysandre out of Item lock. Sometimes it is inevitable that you play down Wobbuffet and Shaymin, and that is okay. Just don't Bench them if you don't have to. Of course Benching Shaymin to dig for a T1 Wally going first is worth it as well.
Red Card and Ace Trainer are useful techs for this matchup. Limiting any deck's hand under Item lock can win games alone, and this is even more effective against something like Night March that typically runs low amounts of draw outs. There really isn't much else you can do to win this matchup outside of stream Trevenant and use Bursting Balloon intelligently. You also want to be careful with Head Ringer so as not to open yourself up to the possibility of a Shaymin loop.
Trevenant vs. Greninja
Greninja is an unfavorable matchup for Trevenant, but it is very winnable. There's always the chance that you get lucky with Item lock. Using Silent Fear as soon as possible is optimal. Silent Fear puts tremendous pressure on the Greninja player, especially if they cannot find Rough Seas. Two Silent Fears kill Froakie and Jirachi, while three will KO any Frogadier that haven't evolved. It is highly unlikely that your opponent will be able to evolve all of their Frogadier under Item lock in time, so you just have to hope they can't get Rough Seas.
You have to win the Stadium war to win this matchup. Be smart with Dimension Valley drops and try not to discard them. Rough Seas is incredibly hard on Trevenant so you've got to bump every one as soon as it comes out. You also must know when to Tree Slam and when to use Silent Fear. The optimal attack is very situation-dependent and it can sometimes be hard to tell which one is better. The only way to get better at this is to practice and have experience with the matchup.
Typically the Greninja player will find a copy of Rough Seas early so you won't always devastate their board, but you should bump it immediately. Since your opponent won't have an easy time setting up under Item lock, you will probably be able to take a couple prizes with Silent Fear as long as Rough Seas doesn't stick. In case I haven't made it clear, the matchup revolves around Rough Seas.
If you want to have a better chance against Greninja, run the Bursting Balloon variant. Bursting Balloon causes some problems for Greninja especially with its low counts of Lysandre. Red Card is also incredible against Greninja. Greninja can sometimes build up large hands, and it always returns Energies after using Moonlight Slash. Red Card (and N to a lesser extent) can mess up the flow of Shurikens being thrown at you, and can potentially stick them with a dead hand. Hammers and Weakness Policies are useless in this matchup.
Another incredibly important card here is Wobbuffet. Now, Item lock is always superior early-game, but Wobbuffet really shines later on. Wobbuffet's Psychic Assault can KO a Greninja that only has 60 damage on it, and it can KO a Greninja BREAK with 80 damage or more. This math is amazing for Trevenant, which usually hits in 30 damage increments. Wobbuffet also has an Ability which shuts down Shurikens. This makes it impossible for Greninja to KO it in one turn. It shuts down the deck for multiple turns all while dealing decent damage and abusing Bursting Balloon.
One tech that some players are using is M Alakazam-EX. A 2-2 line of Alakazam with 2 Spirit Links makes the deck a little more clunky, but it is a solid way to add damage on the field and take surprise KO's. One use of Alakazam's Ability does a total of 50 damage. That's almost as strong as Giant Water Shuriken and it can be used from the Bench. Alakazam works well with Wobbuffet and can even attack on its own.
Other techs you can use are healing cards. It won't be too often that Greninja can OHKO a Trevenant BREAK. Cards like Pokémon Center Lady and Max Potion can increase longevity, which means more Silent Fears. Pokémon Center Lady doesn't heal much, but it can be reused with VS Seeker. Max Potion heals up to 150 damage, which is fantastic for an Item. The drawback is somewhat mitigated by Dimension Valley. Max Potion makes you discard all Energies attached, but you can just reattach another Energy and keep using Silent Fear.
Delinquent would also be helpful in this matchup. It combos well with Red Card. Red Card + Delinquent almost guarantees that your opponent's next turn will not be productive. Since they return Energies to the hand and you disrupt the hand, it's possible that this combo will make them whiff on Shurikens and attacks! It also is a great counter to Rough Seas that can be reused with VS Seeker if you can't get to your Valleys.
The Trevenant Mirror
So far we've talked about a degenerate mirror, a boring mirror, and now a luck-based mirror. The strategy for this deck is so linear that the matchup really depends on who draws better. Interestingly, Item lock in the mirror is far less destructive than it is in other matchups. Bursting Balloon doesn't too much anyway because of Silent Fear not being affected by it. The Hammers version is better in the mirror match, but you will be Item locked for most of the game anyway. While the winner of the mirror will usually be determined by luck in some way or another, there are numerous tips to remember to maximize your odds of winning.
Ascension is a great attack because it alleviates the pain of Item lock. You don't always have to find Ultra Ball for Trevenant when Ascension will get you there. Silent Fear is also nice because it scores a 2HKO on benched Phantump. Keep that in mind when you bench your own Phantump. First of all, you want to limit your Bench as much as you can to reduce Silent Fear's damage. Second, don't play a Phantump unless you are confident that you can evolve it next turn. Otherwise, it will be sniped off.
Just like with Greninja, you must find a balance between Tree Slam and Silent Fear. Which attack you should use fluctuates wildly and completely depends on the specific situation that you are in. Generally speaking, the more Pokémon your opponent has in play, the better Silent Fear is. If they only have two or three Pokémon in play, Tree Slam is likely the better option.
Wobbuffet is helpful in this matchup too. Wobbuffet has almost identical math and KO numbers as it does in the Greninja matchup. While Wobbuffet's Ability doesn't do much in the mirror, it can still take solid KO's which would take Trevenant a few more turns to get to. While your opponent then gets use of their Items, there isn't a whole lot to be worried about there. Wobbuffet does get KO'd be Tree Slam, but if it does its job, the exchange is worth it. One small thing is that Weakness Policy actually lets Wobbuffet survive a Tree Slam, so that's something to keep in the back of your mind.
Pokémon Center Lady and AZ are strong techs in the mirror match. Pokémon Center Lady wipes away a Tree Slam, and AZ can wipe away multiple attacks. AZ does require that you discard the Energies, like Max Potion, but this isn't a huge deal. If you can draw these cards at the right time, they could tip the scales in your favor. Erasing attacks by healing is a huge boon, especially against decks that take a few turns to get kills.
Well, I guess that's it. I'm super excited for US Nationals which is just around the corner. If you're going to Canada or US Nationals, I hoped this article helped prepare you for what you will be up against. I tried to go as in-depth as I could with these matchups. These three decks have been defining the Standard meta all the way since States. I think it is important to be as prepared as possible, especially if you are going to play one of the three kings of Standard. I enjoyed writing my first article for 60cards! Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions about this article. Thanks so much for reading!
- Grant Manley
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