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Caleb Gedemer

"The Many Ways to March" — Night March in the Standard Format

Learn all about Night March!

06/01/2016 by Caleb Gedemer


Night March, love it or hate it, has long been the king of the Standard Pokemon Trading Card Game format. With the United States National Championships on the horizon, that will be no different. There are some new cards in the upcoming set that really help Night March solve even more of its few problems, along with some other interesting inclusions to try out. Enjoy!



Barbaracle is the first of our three new tech options in Night March decks. Barbaracle is a Stage One Water Pokemon with an extremely interesting Ability. Archie’s Ace in the Hole makes for a quick and efficient way to drop this critter into play. Now, Barbaracle allows us to stop our opponent from playing Special Energy cards from their hand to their Pokemon when we have a Stadium card in play. At first glance this might seem somewhat mediocre, due to the nature of the card in that we need to have our own Stadium in play. “Why can our opponent not just play their own Stadium and go to work?” one might ask. Yes, this is entirely possible, but Barby puts them on an immediate clock which demands them to have that very Stadium.

Say we are in a heated mirror match. We chose unconventionally to play first and nail the turn one Barbaracle along with Stadium. If our opponent does not even play a different Stadium instead of our own (in this case) Dimension Valley, they might just immediately lose. Most of Standard format matches are composed of Prize trading. If our opponent misses a crucial turn of attacking, we can get ahead on Prizes and stay ahead. When our opponent does not play a different Stadium than our own, Hex Maniac becomes their only out to our annoyance. Playing Hex early in the stages of a match is generally extremely difficult since they also need to set up and discard Night March Pokemon to fuel their attacks.

To summarize, Barbaracle is a neat way to snatch quick wins and throw a new twist into Night March gameplay. It may not be the best option given that a simple Stadium drop can thwart its entire existence.


Gallade has been tournament legal for play for a while now, but its place in Night March has become slightly more potent with the release of Puzzle of Time. Puzzles can be rearranged in the top five cards of our deck in combination with Gallade’s Premonition Ability. This creates interesting scenarios where we can anticipate card combos coming up and make better, more accurate decisions in our play.

Puzzle of Time can already be fetched with Teammates in tandem, but with Gallade you can play more off of your hand and even manage to play another Supporter afterwards (instead of say, Teammates.)

Let us not forgot that Gallade is extremely great attacker as well! Sensitive Blade will always be a solid attack, provided Pokemon do not start sprouting even higher HP. 130 damage for a Double Colorless when we have played a Supporter card on our turn is a huge bop to any opposing Pokemon. Shaymin-EX can also be knocked out in one hit, which is extremely good. Gallade provides Night March with a solid backup or leading attacker to pave the way to victory.


Onto Marowak, another Stage One from Fates Collide, this time donning the Fighting type, perfect for Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick. Upon its release, this card was extremely hyped as the death to Giratina-EX as well as Seismitoad-EX in particular. Now that people have realized that this card does not quite fit in every run of the mill deck, the buzz surrounding it has quieted down.

Once again, we are going to try and use one of the Aqua/Magma leaders to get this critter into play. Once down, we will gain a huge advantage against the aforementioned Pokemon. These matchups should become a breeze as we can play all the cards in our deck with ease.

Now, something to note, is that Marowak only seems to help against a tight cliche of Pokemon. Giratina-EX and Seismitoad-EX, interestingly to note, are not even that popular in the Standard format as of late. That being said, Marowak will likely not be using all too often as you play through a tournament.


Mew is a new 50 HP Basic Psychic Pokemon from Fates Collide that packs a punch with its new Ability. Not to be confused with Mew-EX from Dragons Exalted, the Abilities are quite similar in that they copy the attacks of other Pokemon. This Mew, however, is limited to our own Bench of Pokemon and they must be Basic Pokemon as well. This limits our options in the grand scheme of things, but when it comes to Night March, fear not, there are no limits on your gameplay.

Mew boasts a free Retreat cost as well, which is particularly useful in a Night March deck. A single copy of Float Stone has become increasingly more popular in Night March decks as a means to promote (generally) a Shaymin-EX with newly granted free Retreat after an opponent’s attack for a knockout. This is extremely helpful when you are unable to find a follow-up attacker for the next turn and must rely on getting that new Pokemon into the Active position coming into your turn. Mew can substitute for this “Float Stone” effect with its 0 Retreat.

If that was not enough, Mew can also be used to overextend for higher damage output Night March attacks. Since Mew itself is not a Night March Pokemon, we can leave say, a Joltik on the Bench and parch our deck dry of Night Marchers in an attempt to knock out an opposing EX of something like 210 HP. Now with Mew being the Active Pokemon, we can retain the Benched Night Marcher for the following turn when we need another attacker. This is extremely useful for maintaining a strong offense of attacks while maintaining a supply of followup Pokemon to actually attack with.


Vespiquen thrives in any kind of deck that manages to discard Pokemon. Generally it is used in the Expanded format as a partner in crime with Flareon, also in Standard with Vileplume. Vespiquen can also be used in conjunction with Night March to provide a backup attacker and type advantage against things like Seismitoad-EX.

Like I just mentioned, the main selling point for Vespiquen is generally the type advantage against Seismitoad-EX decks. This otherwise bad matchup becomes relatively good on paper if we are able to get Vespiquens in play early on and power up their attacks.

Vespiquen also boasts a still quite low HP, but just high enough for decks like Greninja to miss knockouts. This is extremely important against something like that very Greninja deck, because it may very well otherwise be a bad matchup depending on how both players draw.

The queen bee also is terrific against Yveltal decks. Zoroark can not hit it for a knockout if we limit our Bench carefully. It allows us to get ahead in the Prize trade as the opponent has to either two shot with non-EX attackers or bring out the big two Prize attacker in Yveltal-EX. Once this EX hits the field, the game is pretty much over.

In conclusion, the card allows for freer discards of Pokemon in the deck. Sometimes type advantage and the higher HP come into play as well. The flexibility Vespiquen brings to Night March can make it a worthy inclusion.


List Thoughts

To have a better choice at getting the Barbaracle, Acro Bikes have been included. Parallel City is a nice option to have against the mirror match if they play first and get the first Dimension Valley down. Also against decks that play their own Parallel City, we can lock them out of Special Energy with Barbaracle. Other than that, nearly everything is pretty standard. In lists without Puzzle of Time it is probably best not to play Target Whistle because it is quite unlikely that we will ever get it off successfully. Xerosic is nicer than playing Startling Megaphone in particular due to its double usage as an Enhanced Hammer as well and not to mention the repeated use via VS Seeker, which comes in handy against a deck playing something like Focus Sash.

List Thoughts

With this deck we also aim to get a Barbaracle and due to space constraints, only a single copy of Acro Bike is included. The rest of the list is nearly identical to the first, but with the inclusion of the Target Whistle that we spoke of. Puzzle of Time allows for use of Target Whistle even if it gets discarded. Obviously, since we are playing Puzzle of Time, the reliance on Mew and Basic Energy has been relieved as the cards have been cut from the list.

List Thoughts

This list is structured similarly to the Barbaracle version featuring Mew. Instead of playing the Parallel City (it has less meaning without Barby), we have chosen to play another Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick target, that being Gallade!

List Thoughts

This list is structured similarly to the Barbaracle version featuring Puzzle of Time. Once again, instead of playing the Parallel City (it has less meaning without Barby), we have chosen to play another Maxie’s Hidden Ball Trick target, that being Gallade! Target Whistle is also included due to its Puzzle of Time recovery option.

List Thoughts

This list has a bit of a retro feel to it, bringing back memories of a St. Charles, Missouri Winter Regional Championship deck list from Andrew Wamboldt and others. Mew is the main card of interest in here, with new options of Manectric-EX and Seismitoad-EX, Mew can dish out neat attacks when the opponent least expects them. Other than that, the list is fairly standard, but playing Super Rod to recover Basic Energy for repeated use instead of something like Buddy-Buddy Rescue. This list also plays Parallel City to potentially clear EX Pokemon off our board like those very ones I just mentioned, as well as Shaymin-EX, when they are all done with being used.

List Thoughts

This list I am most confident in out of these. I have logged countless games with it, changed cards in and out constantly and this is what I have settled with. Parallel as I have mentioned multiple times is very nice to clear Shaymin-EX from the board and also serves as our Barbaracle counter in the mirror match. An opponent getting the Barbaracle turn one with a Dimension Valley renders our Double Colorless Energy useless so we need a counter Stadium to use to get those extremely important Energy into play so we can attack. Hex Maniac can also serve the same purpose but it is great to have two options for use. Xerosic in conjunction with Enhanced Hammer in the same turn can render a Giratina-EX useless, hence its inclusion.

List Thoughts

Lastly, we have another personal favorite of mine. I used a list similar to this one to top cut a State Championship and do well at other smaller tournaments this year, ranging from the beginning of the year. Obviously, Vespiquen is the key newcomer in here. The list other than that is as straightforward as it comes. Every card has its place and nearly every base is covered as far as the deck’s weaknesses are concerned.


Since so many builds of the deck were covered, all matchups will be lumped into one with more of an analysis of how it goes instead of a percentage or something like that. Techs will be highlighted when they come in handy.


Bronzong BREAK

In this matchup, their array of non-EX attacks will barrage us each turn with attacks that are fueled by Metal Links. As long as we can get ahead on Prizes due to locking them out of an attack for a turn via Hex Maniac, we should have no problem claiming this win. Bronzong BREAK can be annoying with its sniping attack, but it takes many Energy to power up and as a Night March player, we can see it coming. Lysandre can come in clutch to take the BREAK out before it does any damage to our board position. Vespiquen could be somewhat useful in this matchup if our opponent was choosing to run Zoroark and got into a situation where they could not knock out a Vespiquen in one hit, unlikely, but a possibility.


This matchup can be a bit troublesome if we do not hit the right cards at the right time. Manectric-EX equipped with a Fighting Fury Belt boasts 210 HP which is hard to hit with our Night March deck. Most of these builds will share this problem, however the Mew version with our own Manectric-EX can catch them off guard with an Assualt Laser for 120 when they have their Tool attached. Now, if the Manectric-EX player is unable to get Belts down early, we can just run over their board with ease. Sometimes Crobat and Golbat damage can be annoying, but Hex Maniac can solve that problem. Vespiquen can be useful for extra HP and a hard hitting attacker in this matchup. Regardless, this should most times be a win on the paper.


This match is likely to be a crapshoot. If our deck is unable to reach one hit knockout potential early on. Seismitoad-EX with a Fighting Fury Belt is extremely potent for them as well. Item lock is extremely strong and unwinnable for our deck when we cannot actually swing for knockouts. Now, Marowak can solve this problem! Barbaracle can also lock them out of Double Colorless Energy and slow them down, giving us time to set up and get those much needed Prize cards. Vespiquen is definitely the best option, however. The type advantage and one hit knock out range is way too much for ‘toad to handle. If the build we play does not feature one of these options, this matchup is not favorable. However, the ones just mentioned can definitely and most times will pull it around for a win.


This matchup is a little easier now that Night March has Fighting Fury Belt. This forces our opponent to try and score knockouts with something other than Yveltal’s Oblivion Wing. If our opponent has the misfortune of discarding or playing an EX Pokemon, this match should most definitely be won. Barbaracle can be useful to force Yveltal to play a bigger part in accelerating Basic Energy. Vespiquen can be helpful to avoid knockouts as well. Generally this should be a good matchup for Night March variants.


This is a newer, unproven concept at the moment. The deck aims to achieve an early turn Glaceon-EX or Jolteon-EX. Obviously, the opponent will be shooting for the Jolteon-EX against Night March. Barbaracle can stop the opponent from playing Double Colorless Energy which may give us an extra turn to Lysandre knockout the Jolteon before it attacks. Standard Night March with Puzzle of Time stands a great chance with Escape Rope and Target Whistle, as well. The Vespiquen version definitely has the best matchup as Jolteon-EX does not really matter for the deck. We can lose this matchup if the opponent gets an early Flash Ray and stops of from attacking and pressures us in the Prize trade. Escape Rope provides a shot to escape the lock for most of these decks in addition. This matchup will likely be decided by some form of unpredictable scenario that just requires testing to put a thumb on all the possible outcomes.

Greninja BREAK

Greninja BREAK is an extremely inconsistent deck. Most versions pack multiple Jirachi with Stardust nowadays, making that annoying for Night March decks. Sometimes Night March can simply outspeed Greninja BREAK, going too fast for them to really establish a board position. Hex Maniac can be streamed to avoid KOs from Shuriken Abilities. Not too many techs help all that much, but Vespiquen can be awesome to survive longer than a single turn and score easy knockouts due to type advantage. Lysandre use and Escape Rope can reset Jirachi’s immunity after discarding a Double Colorless Energy and we can continue taking Prizes. Careful use of Puzzle of Time will allow more than enough Double Colorless Energy to take the game, even with the nuisance of Jirachi.

M Alakazam-EX

This is a newer deck that does not appear that great, but it is played nonetheless. Pumpkaboo should always be able to attack for a Double Colorless since M Alakazam-EX decks generally play Dimension Valley themselves. Pumpkaboo goes to town on this deck since ‘kazams have Psychic Weakness. We should avoid playing Joltik down against this deck, as their Kinesis Ability can knock the little bug out even when on the Bench. If Pumpkaboo was not enough, Hex Maniac really gets at this deck as they struggle to even take simple knockouts on Night March Pokemon. Techs are not really needed in this matchup because it is pretty straightforward and favorable.

M Rayquaza-EX

M Rayquaza-EX as a matchup is similar to M Alakazam-EX, but this time Joltik is the main attacker for us. Ray is inherently weak to Joltik and we can just roll through their deck with ease. Sometimes these decks also play Jolteon-EX. This generally is not the greatest strategy because we can just play around the Jolteon-EX and prey on their plethora of other EX Pokemon like Hoopa-EX and Shaymin-EX. This should be a win in almost every scenario, any techs you play will likely just help you win in that much greater of a fashion, like Barbaracle.

Night March

The mirror match is a toss up of luck and some skill. In the gameplay section below I go a little more in depth about what this all means. Generally the player going second who also manages to avoid Benching Shaymin-EXs will win most of the time. Getting a turn one Barbaracle with our own Dimension Valley will likely spell loss for our opponent. The Mew version of Night March may also have some cool backdoor ways to win with Seismitoad-EX when they least expect it, in addition.

Trevenant BREAK

Trevenant BREAK is a bothersome matchup if they go first and snag a turn one Wally for Trevenant. The immediate Item lock is far too much for the heavily Item-based Night March deck to handle. To make matters worse, Silent Fear spreads incremental damage to Night Marchers to easily knock them out in a couple turns. Shaymin-EX using Sky Return and then promoting another Shaymin-EX is one way to pull a miracle and get out with a win. Most Trev decks have a counter, though, like Head Ringer. On the flipside, playing first with our Night March deck can give us a real shot at the win. We will have to set up for a turn two knockout on a Trevenant, which requires six Night March Pokemon in the discard pile or five and a Fighting Fury Belt attached to one of our attackers. Basically, Trevenant BREAK as an extremely hard time competing with knockout after knockout and Night March with the right setup can do just that. If the Trevenant player is however able to keep streaming BREAKs even with the pressure from the knockouts, we can run out of attackers and Energy and ultimately lose. This match will come down to some luck of the coin flip and gameplay luck as well. We should not feel too comfortable playing this match or expecting it. Unfortunately, none of the tech options we have really help out too much with this match. Vespiquen can be okay to survive longer, but will likely just be knocked out soon enough anyways. Luckily, in Standard Trevenant BREAK is not that popular, at least it was not over the course of State Championships in the United States.


This matchup really depends on who goes first. If they play first, we will likely lose if they get the turn one Vileplume down. Sometimes you can get close to winning with the perfect hand if they do get the turn one, but it is incredibly unlikely. When we play first, however, the tides turn as we have access to playing as many Items as we want and setting ourselves up for the Prize trade to come. Basically they will have a less consistent deck with less attackers once we start trading and we should win from there, provided once again we go first. Another cool thing to do on the first turn is to play a Hex Maniac, which effectively shuts down their entirely deck and you may even see a quick pass. A turn one Barbaracle will probably lock the opponent out for a bit as well, but they can still replace the Stadium, so sometimes it will not be that great. Overall, this matchup rides on a lot of luck. It is probably best to hope you can avoid it over the course of a tournament.

Yveltal/Zoroark BREAK

Yveltal/Zoroark BREAK is a deck that popped up towards the conclusion of State Championships. It plays multiple Target Whistle to nab our Shaymin-EX out of the discard pile and make it hurt for us as the Night March player. This match is definitely not favorable as they play tons and tons of non-EX Pokemon that can trade effectively with us. Sometimes a game may be able to be won via Lysandre on their own Shaymin-EXs if they have to play one down. Our own Target Whistle will come in handy in that instance as well. Barbaracle can be really great against this deck since they do not play a Stadium, or they play a lower count of Stadiums. Stopping them from playing Double Colorless is one way to pull out an easy win. The other tech options will not be that amazing, except Gallade could be nice to survive a few turns if we limit our Bench accordingly to stop Zoroark from doing lots of damage. This should be a fearsome matchup for our Night March, unless we have a nice tech that works out in the way we want it to.


So many people these days have grown extremely pessimistic attitudes towards Night March. They claim that the deck takes no skill to play and that it is extremely and one sided as a luck-based deck. Let us just set all of that aside for a moment and focus on a few things the deck does offer in the thought provoking idea department:


  1. Prize Trading
  2. Resource Management
  3. Strict Adherence to a Game Plan

So, prize trading, what is it? It is a back and forth carousel of Prize cards between opponents. Night March mirror matches are a great example of this. The first time I actively saw this take place knowingly was at a City Championship in late November. A lot of players had decided to use Night March and the “underground” nature of the Prize trading game became apparent. Quickly, players picked up that they had to go second, not first, in these types of situations. This allows an individual to get ahead and stay ahead.

At this very City, I too had a few experiences like this, but along the way figured sometimes things can still go wrong. So, I sat down for a mirror and won the flip. I was feeling good knowing I would hopefully get the first Prize. I ended up Prizing two Double Colorless Energy and knowing that I could not Bench Shaymin-EXs, had to pass after whiffing an Energy off a Professor Sycamore for seven.

I ended up losing this game from this mishap, but learned a valuable lesson: Target Whistle, that card lost behind countless staples was going to see some play the next day.

After this first tournament, already on the second day my friends and I were playing or thinking about Target Whistle. I considered playing one in the Crobat/Raichu deck I ended up playing, but decided not to. Round one I faced a Night March player and ran into an interesting scenario. I could play a Professor Sycamore with Shaymin-EX in my hand and discard it, or I could just wait it out and opt not to play it. I decided against playing it and it paid off. My opponent did indeed play Target Whistle and I explained my earlier predicament to him after the game. He thought it was extremely clever that I chose not to use the Sycamore and congratulated me on the play.

Ever since this tournament, it seemed that Target Whistle became a much more popular card in Night March decks. Most players decided to play it to allow themselves to have an opportunity to regain a lead in the Prize trade if their opponent took a wrong turn with a discard of a Shaymin-EX.

This combination has panned out for me numerous times now. Thinking in direct relation to your Prize cards and how to get them is extremely important to Night March and Prize trading. Mapping when to play your own Shaymin-EX in a mirror match, for instance, makes for a thought provoking time and clever gameplay.

Onto my next point, resource management. Managing cards and when to play them has always been a skill attributed to the Pokemon Trading Card Game. To truly play Night March well, one has to always be aware of how many copies of certain cards are left and also know when it is okay to part ways with some key cards.

Night March attacks have such little HP, even with Fighting Fury Belt attached, that each of our Energy cards most likely will remain in play for only a single turn (due to being knocked out). This makes each Energy attachment extremely important and generally we want to score a Prize for each Energy.

Let us take the following scenario for instance, we are extremely close to a knockout on an opposing Pokemon EX, but still a tad off. Instead of attaching an Energy and investing into our Active Joltik, we can simply wait a turn for the next turn in which we can play the Professor Sycamore we have in had to reach the magic number for a knockout and then take our two Prizes. This way, we are still able to trade Prizes fairly (EX for two non-EX) and get reach the knockout mark for coming turns.

Knowing when and which Supporter cards to discard with a Battle Compressor is a really nice skill to have. VS Seeker grants us a huge disposal of options and losing them early can be game losing. Instead of just tossing away “tech” Supporter cards like AZ, Hex Maniac and Lysandre, for instance, be sure to check your VS Seeker count and ensure that tossing these Supporters will actually be beneficial in the long run. Battle Compressor for a Lysandre when you have two VS left is acceptable for instance when you have two Prize cards left. Now, had we been in the early stages of the game, that would have been a pretty bad idea and if you have to burn VS Seekers to keep drawing cards with something like Professor Sycamore, we may never even have the chance to successfully play a single Lysandre in the course of a game.

When you play lots of Pokemon on a daily basis, you begin to have a better sense of when it is okay to discard and play certain cards in different situations. A lot of these skills are just inherited through dedication and hard work.

Lastly, we have the idea of strict adherence to a game plan. This can be applied from the minute you draw your opening hand. If we are up against a Gallade/Yveltal/Zoroark deck, we should be mapping out when and where to take Prize cards. Will we need to Target Whistle an EX Pokemon to steal away the win from our opponent? Will we have to avoid Benching Shaymin-EXs of our own to avoid losing? Will we have to limit our Bench to avoid our opponent’s Zoroark from scoring a timely knockout on a Shaymin-EX?

Little things like those above are extremely important to be aware of and note throughout the course of a game, especially in the early stages. So much of gameplay with Night March is repetition of the same things. When to Battle Compressor certain Night March Pokemon and how many of others to keep.

When we play Night March, it is smart to know which Night March critters to discard first. We always count them first, figure out which are Prized and then start with Lampent. When Lampent is gone, then it can become a little tricky. Depending on the deck, sometimes type advantage is important. Generally this would make Pumpkaboo the attacker of choice (the more popular Pokemon that Night March has type advantage include things like Lucario-EX, M Alakazam-EX and M Mewtwo-EX just to name a few). Sometimes Pumpkaboo is also prefered in situations like a matchup with Crobat (to avoid Surprise Bite knockouts on Joltiks), Greninja (to avoid easy knockouts on our Night March Pokemon) and even when our opponent could potentially take a knockout with a Shaymin-EX and its Sky Return attack (conserves an Energy and knocks out a Joltik with ease, this is really important in Night March mirror matches). Now Joltik can become more useful against things it has type advantage against as well (Lugia-EX and Yveltal-EX, for instance). Joltik is nicer to hit hard and fast with, for instance against something like a M Manectric-EX deck. Really the best way to find out which attackers are prefered can be learned through plenty of practice.

Knowing to thin the deck of useless components throughout the course of the game I would say is probably the most important thing to take away from all of this. Even the worst pilot of Night March can get lucky and win games if they thin their deck correctly. Getting hit with a late game N in the final stages of a game can sometimes be the nail in the coffin leading to a loss. If the deck has been stripped of useless cards through masterful use of Professor Sycamore, Battle Compressor and Ultra Balls, those low hand size Ns can still yield the cards we are looking for in a game winner.

A lot of Night March is just sitting back and telling yourself “I cannot play this card”. It is very important to know when and when you cannot play things like a Shaymin-EX or a Double Colorless. When a player gets the hang of Night March gameplay becomes a breeze. Cards start flying fast and games go by pretty quickly. Getting to this point requires a deep understanding of the concept of the deck and how to get yourself out of tricky situations.


Out of these options, I personally would choose the good old tried and true Night March/Puzzle of Time. This deck has treated me and those I play with well. I placed second at a State Championship with the deck and others I know have had great results at both Regional and State Championships as well. The combination of raw consistency coupled with recovery options made available with Puzzle of Time is completely unrivaled by any other deck in the game. Puzzles make room for many intricate game winning plays and let you play a little looser with your resources to keep up with the Prize trade and speediness of the Standard format.

Good luck in your testing for National Championships, regardless of which country you will be playing in. Night March is the number one option heading into these tournaments and if you play well, practice and use and optimal list, you will stand as good a chance as any other competitor.

Hope you enjoyed reading!

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