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Ole Stognief

Three Reasons Why Night March Wins Worlds

What can stop Night March from winning Worlds? Ole discusses three Night March variants, three strengths of the archetype and three strategies to fight it.

08/15/2016 by Ole Stognief

Hey 60cards readers! It’s been a while since I submitted my last article. I just finished university – that means I can go back to Pokémon life now! Probably the best time to do so now: the whole world seems to infected by the Pokémon virus since the release of “Pokémon Go” and in addition to that, there’s this not-so-small and not-so-unimportant Pokémon TCG tournament called World Championship taking place in August. Let’s dive head first into it!

The Pokémon Go sensation

Being a reader of this text and perhaps under certain circumstances, you could have heard about this new Pokémon app “Pokémon Go” that was released six weeks ago. Seriously, I would be quite shocked if you haven’t! It’s everywhere right now: People with their smartphones in hand, cable to the powerbank in their pocket, walking around or sitting together in crowds at certain places. And they are all collecting Pokémon! I’m a Pokémon fan since the very beginning in Germany in 1999 but I think that today’s Pokémon hype even exceeds the initial hype in the late 90s.

An in-game scene from "Pokémon Go".

I’m really looking forward to play Pokémon Go at Worlds in San Francisco. I imagine the whole city to participate in this modern-age mass event going on there, thousands of Pokémon trainers trying to catch the rarest Pokémon out there. Doesn’t seem too unreal anymore, does it?

Pokémon Worlds in San Francisco

Speaking of Worlds, it’s just one week left until the most important and most prestigious Pokémon TCG tournament of the season. Playing Pokémon Go isn’t exactly the best way to prepare for that if you aim at a good placing. But hey, I don’t need to tell that to you who is just reading my article here! Gathering information is one step on the path of preparation.


To be honest, I don’t expect the metagame at Worlds to be as exciting as in previous years. That’s why I chose to write about Night March today. Undeniable the best deck in format – the key question is “Join ‘em or beat ‘em?” I’ll try to do both today. First, I’ll describe Night March’s perspective on the metagame and introduce some of the popular variants. Second, I’ll switch sides and try to find good strategies, decks and techs to counter Night March.

4 Joltik, 4 Pumpkaboo, 4 Lampent…

Do you remember the time when Night March was rather a gimmick deck than a top contender for tournament play? Extreme damage output on low HP Pokémon was a fun strategy for kids and beginners. Some people chose to play it because they liked the idea, but being in the same format with Seismitoad-EX and Night March’s worst nightmare Lysandre’s Trump Card (which was printed in the same set as the Night Marchers, Phantom Forces!), Night March was unable to achieve great success.

From today’s perspective, it seems reasonable that Lysandre’s Trump Card was printed in the same set (PHF) as some of the most important Night March components (all the Pokémon, Battle Compressor, Dimension Valley and VS Seeker). But LTC was unbalanced for other reasons, mainly Seismitoad-EX, Shaymin-EX, Slurpuff (PHF!), Hammers and Lasers. It was a good decision to ban LTC in June 2015.

Subsequently, Night March’s rise to the top started. It was a slow start though – Night March still had the image of a fun deck that wasn’t suitable for competition. The first time when I recognized how strong Night March had become was at Worlds 2015 in Boston where fellow German player Merlin Quittek achieved Top 4 with his Night March deck. That happened despite Seismitoad-EX / Crobat (PHF! I think I made my point clear) being one of the best decks in that format.

Over the course of the 2015-16 season, Night March became stronger and stronger. The only decks that could get a handle on it in Standard format were Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX and in some way Manectric-EX / Crobat. Night March proceeded to win the European Challenge Cup (piloted by Mehdi Hafi) and the US Nationals in Nick Robinson’s NM / Vespiquen variant.

Three Reasons why Night March wins Worlds

I found three reasons why I think that Night March will win the World Championships in Masters Division this year. Let me go through them quickly.

1. Night March is the most popular deck. According to “The Charizard Lounge”, 37 % or 25 out of 64 decks in Top Cut of US Nationals were Night March variants. That is a huge amount in comparison with the popularity of BDIFs in former formats (18 % for Seismitoad-EX variants in 2015). Many players already had success playing Night March – they would have to find a good reason to switch their deck for Worlds.

2. Night March is the most consistent deck. I can tell from experience that archetypes which feature many different variants are usually very consistent. The main engine works – that’s important to know. Night March comes in a straight variant or with Mew, Bronzong, Vespiquen and some more.

3. Night March has answers to all counters. Some Night March counters or enemies have faded out from competitive play (e. g. Crobat), but for those that are still around, Night March has a lot of options to counter them. Hex Maniac, Pokémon Ranger, Vespiquen, Xerosic, Enhanced Hammer… it’s hard nowadays to find a Night March counter that can’t get countered itself.

Three Night March variants

I would like to discuss three different Night March variants and their strengths and weaknesses shortly.

Straight Night March


* Second Hex Maniac can be a Pokémon Ranger, Energy Retrieval is Special Charge

This is my approach to a straight Night March deck. It features many useful techs and counters to deal with difficult matchups – those techs can be adjusted to the expected metagame (e. g. playing Mew and Basic Energy to counter Special Energy denial).


-          Most consistent and straight-forward variant

-          Able to use a lot of useful Trainer cards to help with difficult matchups

-          Superior in the mirror match


-          Straight variants are often easily predictable


Night March / Vespiquen


The Night March / Vespiquen variant uses the Grass type Vespiquen to help with the Seismitoad- and Greninja-Matchup. As a Stage 1 it can also deal with counters for Basic Pokémon. This variant features more attackers – when it needs to discard many Night Marchers for a OHKO, Vespiquen can be a backup attacker after the last Night Marcher in play was KOed.


-          Vespiquen helps against Seismitoad-EX, Greninja and other Grass-weak Pokémon

-          Vespiquen is a strong backup attacker with a free retreat cost


-          Vespiquen requires a large amount of Pokémon to be effective

-          Consistency is reduced to gain an edge in certain matchups

-          The Vespiquen line doesn’t help much in the mirror match


Night March / Bronzong


Night March / Bronzong is the least popular variant mentioned here but it still offers some advantages. Bronzong PHF can accelerate Metal Energy to Night Marchers to make them independent from Double Colorless Energy. It can also help to setup an attacker after a lategame N. The new Bronzong FCO can be played in addition to help with the Trevenant matchup.


-          Accelerates Energy to be less dependent on Double Colorless Energy

-          Streaming attackers can be easier, especially after a lategame N


-          The Bronzong line plus Metal Energy requires much deck slots

-          Bronzong can get stuck active after a Lysandre

-          “Metal Links” Ability is vulnerable to Hex Maniac


Three Ways to fight Night March

Night March is hard to fight against because it’s a powerful deck that features a lot of different variants. Teching against Night March can’t be accomplished with a single card – you need a game plan for each variant. I would like to show you three ways how I believe Night March can be defeated.

1. Knocking out multiple Night Marchers in one turn. This is a very effective strategy against Night March because that deck features so many low-HP Pokémon. There are some Pokémon that are able to spread damage, but they all require setup. Let’s go through them.

Greninja: “Water Shuriken” and “Giant Water Shuriken” are just perfect to KO those pesky Joltik and Pumpkaboo. Theoretically, a Greninja deck is able to KO four Pokémon in one turn, using one Water Shuriken Ability, two Giant Water Shuriken and an attack. It struggles with Night March’s extreme speed and pressure in early game though.

Trevenant: Probably the best way to fight Night March. Trevenant XY blocks all the Item cards that Night March needs for its setup. Trevenant BREAK can clear the opponent’s field out in just a few turns. The Trevenant deck relies on a good first turn to outbrake Night March.

Crobat: The classic Night March enemy. Golbat’s and Crobat’s abilities are great to spread damage precisely to prepare knockouts. They disappeared from competitive play because of Rough Seas – rough KO power is more effective these days than precise damage calculations.

Bronzong BREAK: This is the most situational card here. Bronzong BREAK has a good attack that can spread 30 damage for each Metal Energy discarded from itself. One “Metal Rain” attack in lategame can win you the game – but it requires a lot of setup and the whole Metal engine behind it.

Medicham PRC81 and Torchic PRC26: Pokémon with the “Barrage” Ancient Trait are allowed to attack twice per turn. If you manage to deal enough damage for OHKOs on Night Marchers, then you could take out two of them in one turn. The new Volcanion-EX could help Torchic achieving that.


2. Trading Non-EX-Pokémon. Night March has an advantage over Pokémon-EXs because it can OHKO them easily while the Night Marchers just give up one prize per turn. Fighting them with your own Non-EX-Pokémon could make you win the prize race. Yveltal XY, Zoroark BKT, Vespiquen AOR, Articuno ROS and some more are able to score easy knockouts on Joltik, Pumpkaboo or even Shaymin-EX. Just make sure that your opponent can’t Lysandre any of your own Shaymin-EX on the bench!

3. Preventing one-hit-knockouts (OHKOs) on your Pokémon. That is hard to achieve against Night March because it can attack for up to 230 damage without weakness. This means that every Lightning- or Psychic-weak Pokémon isn’t a good choice here. Grass-weak Pokémon struggle against Vespiquen variants – the straight variant has some problems knocking out a 250HP Wailord-EX or a 230HP belted Zygarde-EX. Fighting Fury Belt is very helpful to increase HP on your Pokémon-EX. Focus Sash can be used for Fighting Pokémon only. Both tools are vulnerable to Xerosic and Startling Megaphone though.


That’s it for today – I’m going to do some more playtesting now. Night March seems to be the overly powerful deck for Worlds, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no practicing and analyzing needed anymore. For those who travel to San Francisco, see you at Worlds!

- Ole


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