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Julian Hook

Brave New World: Observations Regarding the Anaheim Regionals Metagame

Julian shares some of his thoughts on the new meta going into Anaheim.

02/07/2017 by Julian Hook

This article is part of 60cards article competition

Introduction

Hey, 60cards readers. Julian back with another article for you guys, this time featuring my preliminary observations on the meta going into Anaheim regionals. With the release of Sun and Moon, a lot may have changed. I think it’s fair to say that we just experienced a definite power creep and also that it’s now one of the most welcoming periods ever for player creativity. Actually, with all the new crazy cards and card combos, it might be hard to even know where to start. That’s what I’m here for. The point of this article will not be to “crack the format”, but rather to provide a reasonable starting point from which to begin. Specifically, I’m going to point out some of the most obvious features of the “new meta” based on my reading of the cards themselves as well as my recent experiences on the PTCGO. Without further ado…

Observation #1: Grass is Good

Going into the Anaheim, Grass is definitely a type to watch out for. To start with, Vespiquen was the most well-represented deck at the Georgia regionals top 8, claiming 3 spots. I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see it pop up again. But the even bigger reason for Grass being good is all of the powerful new Grass Pokemon that have just been released in the Sun and Moon expansion. Actually, there’s 3 different grass Pokemon that have competitive viability. These are: Lurantis GX, Decidueye-GX, and Tsareena. Lurantis-GX may be the best of them, as it’s a 210 HP stage 1 with a cheap but highly effective energy recycling attack, a good healing attack, and a hard-hitting GX attack. Decidueye-GX, while a stage 2, has a really fantastic ability which could provide the basis for a Latios-EX donk deck, or just a powerful damage spreading deck (think Crobat and Greninja BREAK). As for Tsareena, its synergy with Red Card and Delinquent is deadly enough to warrant building a deck around. Moreover, they all benefit spectacularly from Forest of Giant Plants and Revitalizer.

The Implications of This

Water is bad, fire is good. Players who have become attached to playing Greninja, will definitely have to start considering other options seeing as all of these new grass Pokemon donk Greninja BREAK with ease. On the other hand, Volcanion decks are looking extra hot right now as they basically auto-win against any and all Grass-based decks. Fact is: the raw firepower of Volcanion-EX is already often enough to OHKO even the highest HP titans (Volcanion Heat plus 4 Steam-Ups is enough to KO Wailord-EX)—but against decks that actually have a weakness to it?  …yeah, pretty much what I’d call a “candy ride”.

Observation #2: Abilities are Everywhere!

Abilities have always been surprisingly prevalent in this format. When the format began, it was mainly Greninja BREAK’s Giant Water Shuriken, Volcanion-EX’s Steam Up and Vileplume’s Irritating Pollen. More recently, abilities like Unown’s Farewell Letter, Klefki’s Wonder Lock, and Dragonite-EX’s Pull Up have also made a big impact on the meta. However, if you thought the format was already heavy on Abilities, prepare for it to get even more so. The latest set is choc-full of potentially high-impact abilities from Draw power (Oranguru), Card Denial (Tsareena), Damage Spread (Decidueye) and Mobility (Solgaleo-GX).

The Implications of This

Garbodor. Is. Good. Yeah, need I say more? Well alright, if you insist. Playing Garbodor automatically shuts down a significant amount of different strategies you’re likely to come up against (which is especially great in a blind/fresh meta). Also, Tool removal is still lacking (unless you consider Beedrill-EX’s Tool removing attack. I don’t) and so Garbodor is pretty much unstoppable. I’d even consider a 3-2 line if you’re going to play it, as the only strategy that really works against Garbodor is to Lysandre it for the KO.

Observation #3: Energy Disruption is Huge!

With Sun and Moon, we received two new Pokemon with devastating Energy-denial attacks. Those Pokemon are Umbreon-GX and Skarmory. Umbreon has a great GX attack called Dark Call, which for the cost of one Darkness Energy and one Colorless Energy allows you to "Discard 2 Energy from your opponent's Pokemon". Scary, huh? And if you haven't already seen Skarmory's attack, prepare for panic: for two Colorless Energy "Discard all Special Energy from each Pokemon". Wow... And don’t forget, these are just the latest additions in an already Energy-disruption heavy format: we still have Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, Jirachi promo, M Scizor-EX, and Raticate!

The Implications of This 

Decks that rely heavily (or at all) on Special Energy are particularly vulnerable. Vileplume Toolbox and Darkrai/Giratina, for instance, ought to be in full-on panic mode. Even decks that only use Basic Energy are vulnerable (to Umbreon-GX, Raticate, Team Flare Grunt, and Crushing Hammer) if they don’t have some form of Energy acceleration. This is why I feel that Pokemon with Energy accelerating attacks are particularly good at this time. Cards like Lurantis-GX, Volcanion SS, and Yveltal XY totally frustrate Energy-denial-based strategies. Lately, Yveltal/Garbodor players seem to have been completely forgoing Oblivion Wing Yveltal. With this new development, they may be forced to start slipping it in again.

Observation #4: The Fighting Type Has a New Representative in Passimian

I’ve been coming across Passimian based decks a lot on the PTCGO lately. If you haven’t been introduced to this card yet, it’s a 110 HP basic non-EX with an attack that, for the cost of two Colorless energy, does 10 damage plus 30 more for each Passimian on your bench. With FC Mew doing the attack, you're hitting 130 a turn which is enough to 2HKO anything. I’m not sure if this will prove to be the next Vespiquen/Zebstrika, but it’s a cheap and easy deck that newer players will likely seize upon. Definitely expect to come up against it.

The Implications of This

Pokemon with a weakness to Fighting types are no longer as safe as they once were. This should definitely give Darkrai-EX and Jolteon-EX players some sort of pause. Even if the deck is far from being the BDIF, it’s still likely to be played a lot—so having an auto-loss to it is not something to take lightly. For Turbo Dark players, replacing (or just adding) one of the 4 Darkrai-EX’s with an Yveltal-EX would likely be a good hedge against this new threat. Also, Pokemon with a Weakness to Psychic types are similarly endangered. Indeed, Mew FC is the ideal attacker in the deck, so M Mewtwo/Garbodor players will definitely want to get Garbodor out as fast as possible when going up against it.

On the other hand, pokemon with a Resistance to Fighting just got a bit better—Yveltal-EX and M Rayquaza-EX, I’m looking at you.

Familiar Faces Looking Hot

All of these points considered, I feel that two familiar decks are looking particularly hot right now: Yveltal/Garbodor and Volcanion SS/Volcanion-EX. Both decks seem—at least at first glance—to benefit more than any other familiar archetypes from the new meta developments. While they both could potentially get snowed under by some wild and unexpected archetype the new set may have given us, they’re both undeniably aggressive, consistent, and time-tested concepts that could provide certainty in a largely uncertain meta. I feel like this is the first conclusion a lot of players will take looking at the new meta, and so, when considering other decks, I would suggest making sure it beats at least one of those two decks. If it loses to both, the risk could very well be too high.

Conclusion

Thanks, everyone who stopped by to read my second 60cards article. I hope these observations have helped give you a better idea of where to begin when attempting to crack this crazy new meta. Happy testing!

P.S. Every "like" is much appreciated!

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