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Yu Zeng

Does Greninja Have Any More Life Left In It?

With the new introduction of beefy Pokemon in the form of GX Pokemon as well as the injection of new powerful Grass Pokemon, can Greninja still compete with the big boys?

02/08/2017 by Yu Zeng

Hello 60C, long time lurker but the newest set and its personal implications to me have riled me up to write my first article and share my thoughts.

 

I will be here today to talk about how the newest set, Sun and Moon, has impacted Greninja and whether the deck still has enough tricks up its sleeves to keep the top tier status that it had worked so hard to obtain.

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What Has Changed?

Sun and Moon, before yet to even show itself in any high level competition, is almost sure to make splashes.

Having teased us with Snorlax GX, all new incredibly powerful GX cards are expected to shake things up and take the limelight away from the old EX guard. Boasting nigh-overpowered single-use GX attacks as well as sky high HP numbers, Greninja is already feeling uncomfortable. 

Combine that with the fact that the Base Set has already brought to the table two new highly playable Grass Pokemon in Decidueye and Lurantis, Greninja just realized that it had gained at least four or five bad matchups (2-3 variants of Decidueye and Lurantis each) as well as any other new matchups being difficult due to the high numbers that the deck has to hit.

 

The Good:

Believe it or not, as omnimous as the early part sounded, there is some good from this new set. If we stop thinking of GXs as an entirely new mechanic for a moment, what this really means is that Greninja now has more decks where it will fight to take down 3 big monsters to their opponents' 6 little frogs. The race to the bottom is a favorite of Greninjas against most of the meta decks at the moment and on a fundamental level, the deck has gained a few more edges as there will slowly be less pure non-EX/GX decks to play around with.

The second little pat on the back is the new Professor Kukui card which helps play around with the numbers that can help you clinch the KO this turn instead of the next.

Just to give an example, let's say that both a Greninja player and a Mewtwo player are both set up with the Greninja player having 2 Breaks out and the Mewtwo player having a full HP M-Mewtwo EX out. Before, the maximum damage output (without Bursting Balloon) that the deck could output on a single turn was 200 damage (2 * GWS + Returned Moonlight Slash), missing the key remaining 20 HP and what do you know, Kukui just so happens to add 20 extra damage, enabling the OHKO. Obviously, this is a very specific example, but these are all little things that can give you an edge and as such, we have to take them into account.

For what it's worth, most of the new decks that rose from the new set do not particularily enjoy Garbodor who was one of the key hinderances to its success formerly. However, many of the new decks also have powerful abilities, which may incentivize others to turn to Garbodor once again...

Finally, while not a direct plus, the introduction of new powerful Grass types is just asking for Volcanion to come in and do some damage and with more Volcanion around, that just means more happy Greninja players around. Oh and the deck does well against Passimian I guess.

 

The Bad:

While I somewhat tried to sugarcoat the reality, we eventually have to face it. This new set hurts. A lot. As I've outlined before, the highest possible damage that you could output in a single turn at the moment is 220 (without Bursting Balloon) and that is with the optimal board state. These new beefy Pokemon and their fancy 200+ HP are terrifying.

One of the saddest of this example in my eyes is Decidueye GX who sits comfortably at 240 HP, being another 20 HP out of reach. One of the most terrifying examples though is a Tauros GX with a Fighting Fury Belt attached, effectively a 220 HP Pokemon. IF, we do not have an optimal board state up AND do not have Kukui in hand to be our Supporter for the turn, we would not only be looking down sadly on miss opportunities, but we would be punished heavily for it as Tauros GX could OHKO a full HP Greninja BREAK without even using his GX attack. This is true if you are missing 1 Giant Water Shuriken OR the Kukui. This leads to the next point.

170 is no longer that hard to achieve. One of the main strengths of Greninja BREAK formerly was that the card was quite beefy for a card that didn't give out 2 prize cards and thanks to that, we could fully take advantage of cards like Max Potion who would make something hard even harder. With the introduction of powerful GX attacks that could easily take down your first (or only) BREAK, we are effectively gutted if we cannot get multiples on the board fast enough and our single one is KO'd without our consent.

On a side topic, I honestly expect Tauros's value (as a card, not necessarily its monetary value) to go up as its a card that sways your opponent's decision-making away from putting damage counters on it, much like Damage Change Mewtwo.

Furthermore, Greninja's poor starts (which we must accept, much like we have to accept that the sky is blue or that fire burns) are hugely punished. If we cannot get the optimal start of Talonflame Active and 1 to 2 Froakies on the bench, we are effectively fighting an uphill battle. With decks like Decidueye who can begin gunning down your Pokemon by Turn 1 or Lurantis who can item lock you on their first turn, we are only able to accept this possibility and hope for the best.

 

 

Moving Forward:

So, the first and foremost question on everyone's mind: is Greninja a viable pick for Anaheim, the first regionals where Sun and Moon will be legal? As a long time Greninja fanatic, I grudgingly say no. No, but with an asterisk stating unless you are confident in being able to face multiple Volcanions in your run.

Nearly every matchup has updated themselves in a way to make themselves even more powerful with the most daunting one being Yveltal picking up Tauros.

The amount of effort that you would have to put in to meticulously place damage counters and run numbers in your head is honestly too overwhelming for a many-rounded event like a Regionals.

Your play has to be clean and mistakes will be punished with less leeway than before.

All in all, I do not believe that Greninja is a good deck choice at the moment. However, we have to note that this is just the Base Set, so perhaps with the right support in the next few sets, maybe, just maybe, Greninja will be up and ready for battle once again.

We'll see, but for now, I believe Greninja will have to watch from the sidelines.

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