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Jonathan Walquist

The Sky Snake Redemption

No-color Mega Rayquaza in the Standard format ... enter: Winona! Part one in my Journey with M Rayquaza-EX!

10/11/2016 by Jonathan Walquist

(This is part of the 60cards Article Competition!)

I'm Not

going to give up on Mega Rayquaza. Many of the most renowned players who write articles have gone ahead and layed out the reasons why the Sky Snake is not dominating the format. I agree with them. The decks that people use M Rayquaza-EX in have indeed only been alright so far this format, mostly due to lack of knowledge and bad matchups. Players expect the field to be of some percentage, Rayquaza; so they plan accordingly with techs and strategies to beat it.

So how do we counter the counter? With another addition? Another bench-sitting Pokémon of different typing to do the job with an ability? No. Garbodor is a major threat, as well as Shadow Stitching. So ... do we play a heavy tech line of items and supporters to solve our threat? No. Such additions can compromise our consistency.

Do you see where I'm going here? The deck doesn't need more. It needs less. Less color. Less techs and tricks. It can be largely agreed upon that any version of the deck, with the right set-up, can and will win every game no matter what other cards are added on. So, what I think should happen is a sort of cleansing of the archetype: removing excess techs for more consistent results. Besides, I think I've found the answers to most every challenging situation within only the Colorless type.

And that means we're running Winona.

Winona is a Supporter card that was released in Roaring Skies, the very same expansion as M Rayquaza-EX, Shaymin-EX, Altaria, Trainers' Mail, and a few other cards that see the light of day within this deck, which, arguably Tpci created for us.

Winona reads "Search your deck for up to 3 (C) Pokémon, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Shuffle your deck afterward." It can be pretty easy to spot just how this works. The goal is to drop the hand size using Ultra Ball and playing out the hand, and, much like Shaymin, Winona can draw us cards by searching for Shaymin on top of two other (C) Pokémon. It is the engine of the deck, much like Hoopa-EX is for the other version of M Rayquaza-EX.

To explain further, you'll need to see the list:

Perhaps the coolest thing about a deck without colors is that you can use literally any combination of basic energy cards in it. ;)


Card Explanations

4-3 M Rayquaza-EX, 4 Shaymin-EX: Standard counts of these key cards. Three megas could become four if you feel uncomfortable with getting to that third one during the later portion of the game. But the reason it is three is because that's six prizes.

2 Hawlucha: This is interesting! I love this little guy so much. When we have Winona, many options for plays and tools open up. This is one of them. On the first turn of the game or when faced with a stubborn Carbink, this Hawlucha is a cool play. It has climbed me out of situations in which I must take a KO but my opponent has put something inpenetrable in the active, on top of often disrupting my opponent's set up on the first turn. If M Mewtwo-EX starts a Mewtwo and a Trubbish, sending out that pile of trash can stall the game and swing it in our favor big time.

2-2 Altaria: This is the key to having only one type in any deck, covering weakness. Altaria does just that, and its Delta Evolution ancient trait allows this to happen before anything evolves. So Galvantula can't do more than 30 to anything. Ever. But we'll review why that doesn't even matter when we get to the next Pokémon. Having these bench-sitting Pokémon can be good as long as we're not faced with such a dedicated opponent as someone who exploits weakness and uses Garbodor. But so far, it hasn't been an issue, because just being able to add 30 to our attack and use up two Pokémon slots from Winona can be game-breaking, because it thins our hand and our deck; all, of course, so we can draw more cards with Shaymin-EX.

1 Lugia: This is the reason Galvantula doesn't scare this Mega Ray anymore. Doing only 10 to two benched Pokémon won't get our opponent far. Our Shaymin-EX are actually safer on the bench than they will be in other decks. But Lugia is so much more. It is a one-prize attacker with an identical energy cost, which is good. It can 2-shot any opposing EX, which can win games against some that do not do more than 140 damage (i.e. M Sceptile-EX, Giratina-EX). And sometimes finishing off that opposing M Mewtwo-EX is worth the prize. We're playing a game for seven prizes anyway.

3 Winona: If I haven't explained enough, this card is the proper engine for M Rayquaza-EX. She can search for all our Pokémon, filling the bench and drawing cards with Shaymin. But the real edges she has over the ever-popular Hoopa-EX is that she's not a 2-prize, 2-retreat, cumbersome Pokémon that has to be tailored to; and she can search for our Altaria and Lugia and Hawlucha, a feat that Hoopa-EX decks cannot accomplish. She can be reused with VS Seeker and all this ... in my opinion ... makes up for the fact that she takes up the Supporter play for the turn. To make it even clearer, my deck has 10 sure outs to Shaymin-EX, while most decks only sport 6-7.

3 Professor Sycamore, 1 N, 1 Hex Maniac: These are standard for the deck. Less than three Professor Sycamore is risky in this format, because he is the best draw Supporter. N will likely hurt us more than help us in most situations, so it is best to keep him as a tech. Hex Maniac can get us out of some situations. Many argue that 2-3 copies are needed, but I disagree on the grounds that our deck, largely because of Winona and Hawlucha, doesn't need to turn off Giratina-EX or Carbink nearly as often. Chaining these can be important against Greninja, however.

2 Lysandre: Two is ideal. I would put a third if I could. This card encompases just why our deck can beat all others. We can grab KOs on key opposing Pokémon when we need to the most. In one game against my friend's Rainbow Road deck, I was able to stream three of these and get rid of his attackers before they became problems, thus winning the game. These are also needed to KO Garbodor and Vileplume.

3 Ultra Ball, 3 VS Seeker, 3 Trainers' Mail: These cards are great in any deck, and most say that four copies are absolutely necessary. I disagree from a logical standpoint. I believe that this deck can afford to drop an Ultra Ball because of our heavy count of search through Winona. Any deck should have at least three VS Seeker, but I believe that four is excessive. This is because we no longer need the card starting turn-one. Before Battle Compressor was rotated, we could use the cards to grab a Supporter for our first turn. But now, we can dial back and know that we can include exactly enough. They get stuck in our hands too easily, so say I. Trainers' Mail is a necessary card in threes, because two is too little, but four is too many, because we keep running into more of them in those four cards, reducing our chances of finding what we need. Besides, the extra spot in deck is well-used no matter how you look at it.

3 Rayquaza Spirit Link: Rule of thumb: play as many Links as you have Megas. Period.

3 Mega Turbo: This card alows for some shady turn-one attacks, but also recovers when we fail to last more than one turn with a Mega in the active. Three is the right number, yet again, because we cannot consistently rely on energy cards in the discard pile due to the non-legality of Battle Compressor. We have three Ultra Ball, anyway.

2 Paint Roller: This is another ... strange ... but needed inclusion. Parallel City is our mortal enemy, and this card gives us two more ways to remove it, giving us a card in the process. And in matchups where the Sky Field will always stick, playing it to cycle and immediately replace the stadium on the first few turns does a lot for consistency and thinning the deck. It also allows us to discard our Shaymin-EX in matchups where more than 150 damage is not needed, without running extra stadium cards.

1 Super Rod: This is how we come back from the most unfortunate plays. It gives us two full benches of 8 per game to work with.

4 Sky Field: This format is geared toward stadium wars more than it has been in a long time. Faded Town is even seeing play, making four copies of our win condition absolutely needed. No questions asked.

 4 DCE, 6 Basic Energy: This count is ideal beause is allows us to attach three Basic Energy to a Mega or a Lugia if we are faced with too many Giratina or Jirachi.


Conclusion: Matchups to Come

In a future article, I will be discussing the specifics of how the deck operates against may of today and tomorrow's meta decks.

But, until then, I hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at M Rayquaza-EX. May your jouney to become a Pokémon Master boad well.

May it boad well, indeed.


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