Athens and the 'Invincible' Deck
Let’s talk about Athens Regionals...
01/27/2017 by Pablo Meza
Table of contents
Hola 60cards readers! Some of you might have heard of me before, others might not, so I want to introduce myself before moving on to today’s article.
My name is Pablo Meza, also known as Tablemon, and I’m a Pokémon TCG player from Mexico who currently holds the title of 2016 Mexican National Champion. Aside from that, I’ve had my fair share of success at an international level, where some of my biggest accomplishments include a 3rd place at Worlds 2005 with the infamous Queendom deck, back-to-back 1st/2nd places at Socal/Texas Regionals with Banette ex/Houndoom in 2007, and 5th place at the first European Challenge Cup (or ECC for short) in 2012. I’ve been playing this game competitively since Pokémon took over back in 2003, albeit at varying degrees of competitiveness due to life/school/work but as of today, my intention and goal is to be considered amongst those who play this game as professionals.
But enough about me, hopefully I didn’t bore you too much with that introduction. Let’s talk about Athens Regionals, and how there were a lot of sleeper decks that surfaced there that had not seen heavy play or any real mention or success at the highest level in previous Regionals OR the European International.
Athens Regionals turning what everyone was calling a ‘stale’ metagame and shouts of ‘ban Yveltal please, it’s too broken’ upside down. In a span of a little over a month, we went from a completely Yveltal-dominated metagame at the London event in December, to a huge Megas turnaround with Mega Gardevoir and Mega Mewtwo taking the top spots at Dallas, and finally, to end this pre-Sun and Moon we had the biggest Regionals to date where decks previously unheard of or discarded as weak choices came out on top.
These were the Top 10 players from Athens Regionals:
1. Chris Siakala – Turbo Darkrai EX
2. Dylan Bryan – Vespiquen AOR/Zebstrika BKP/Garbodor BKP/Octillery BKT
3. Carl Sitavi – Vespiquen AOR/Zebstrika BKP/Zoroark BKT/Vaporeon AOR
4. Kyle Sabelhaus – Turbo Darkrai EX
5. Ahmed Ali – M Rayquaza EX/Metal
6. Luis Zambrana – M Rayquaza EX/Metal
7. William Boatman – Vespiquen AOR/Zebstrika BKP/Garbodor BKP
8. Chip Richey – M Rayquaza EX/Jolteon EX
9. Chris Taporco – Turbo Darkrai EX
10. Grant Manley – Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX/Regice AOR/Garbodor BKP
That’s FOUR completely different decks in the top 10, and besides Vespiquen/Zebstrika which placed at London (Alex Hill, 9th place), none of the other 3 decks had made a showing at Regionals, in big numbers at least.
Mega Rayquaza EX was always deemed unplayable due to the huge presence of the Garbodor + Parallel City combination, Vespiquen was considered significantly weaker due to the lack of Battle Compressor to increase it’s damage output in the early stages of the game, Turbo Darkrai, i.e. a combination of Max Elixir + EXP. Share to maintain Darkrai’s damage output throughout a game, was a very obvious choice that was simply not explored enough until the very later stages of the metagame, and finally, the ultimate lockdown combination of Jolteon EX, Glaceon EX and Regice was only ever played so far with Vileplume but never in combination with Garbodor (albeit, Long Bui did manage to Top 16 both Dallas and Athens with the deck).
This to me doesn’t show a stale metagame but rather, signs of a healthy and evolving metagame where players can adapt and find solutions to counter the top threats, either by popularity, such as Volcanion, or raw strength, in the case of Yveltal.
I myself played Jolteon EX/Glaceon EX/Regice/Garbodor to a 5-1-3 / 72nd place finish at Athens. Honestly it’s a very disappointing result, specially after seeing other top players choose it as their deck for the day and doing well, such as Grant Manley (10th place bubble) and Long Bui (Top 16 at Dallas and Athens).
I will now go into my tournament report, with as much detail as possible, to try and portray the intricacies of this deck, as it’s definitely not the easiest to play with.
First off, this is the list I settled on for the tournament:
- 2x Jolteon EX
- 2x Regice
- 2x Glaceon EX
- 3x Trubbish
- 2x Garbodor
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 3x N-supporter
- 2x Lysandre
- 1x Giovanni's Scheme
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Max Elixir
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 3x Rough Seas
- 3x Float Stone
- 1x Super Rod
- 2x Fighting Fury Belt
- 4x Water Energy
- 5x Lightning Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
The 2/2/2: The original list I used as a basis contained 2 Jolteon EX, 1 Glaceon EX and 0 Regice. After talking with the creator for a bit, he did mention playing 1 Regice ideally and I played that 2/1/1 at a League Challenge which I won undefeated the week before the tournament. After testing the original list though, and playing enough games with it, I immediately concluded that, at least for my playstyle, playing 2/1/1 was way too risky as some matchups, such as Vespiquen, Gyarados or Greninja, can ONLY be won by setting up Glaceon-EX, so running only 1 and running the risk of prizing it was way too high and 2 should mean that getting one powered up should be easy every single game. Thus, I made room for the 2/2/2, which ended up being super consistent in making sure that you haviethe right attacker for the right matchup every time.
3/2 Garbodor: Garbodor is extremely good and pretty much the only card that can keep Greninja BREAK in place as of today. Shutting off abilities is key in preventing decks like Mega Gardevoir (through Hawlucha), Yveltal (through Fright Night), Volcanion (as they run Pokémon Ranger) and Greninja BREAK (through Giant Water Shuriken) to break your invincible lock.
2 Shaymin EX: Pretty standard stuff, although these have to be played with careful consideration as every benched Pokémon is a way for your opponent to break the lock at any point in the game.
4 Sycamore / 3 N / 2 Lysandre: The norm of the Standard format draw engine. There’s an argument for 3 Lysandre I feel in a deck such as this one, but alas space is definitely an issue.
1 Giovanni’s Scheme: The one supporter tech card of choice, as the extra 20 damage can come in handy quite a few times, especially during game 1 of a best of 3 where your opponent is still gathering information about your deck. Giovanni’s allows you to 2HKO Greninja BREAK, non Fighting Fury Belted EX’s and OHKO things like Yveltal EX or Vespiquen’s and Raichu’s.
Other options for this slot could be Ninja Boy or Delinquent, all of which I tried but felt like they were unnecessary or at least less useful than the extra damage.
3 Rough Seas: I believe this is where I went wrong with the list. In theory, 3 Rough Seas is great to make it so that Regice can handle an Yveltal matchup on it’s own but besides that, these were honestly not very useful, and a bad call specially because there were very few Yveltal decks in the room that day. I don’t feel like having the cards hurt me, but it certainly would’ve been nice to increase the energy count and play more tech supporters such as Pokémon Center Lady or Ninja Boy.
4 Max Elixir: The big difference between this build and the Plumebox builds, is the ability to power up your attacker more easily AND not have to rely so heavily on special energy. The 5/4 split energy worked well throughout the tournament. Out of 9 Bo3’s I never ran into issues and neither in testing, but a 5/5 split of each would’ve certainly been optimal.
I feel like the rest of the list is pretty self explanatory, so let’s move on to the overall matchups and the tournament itself.
VS Greninja BREAK (75/25): In the regular Plumebox decks, you rely on their clunkyness and an early Vileplume to be able to shut them out of KOing your Glaceon EX, but with Garbodor, you have an invincible lock against them as they can’t damage you, nor can they use their abilities to bypass the effect of Crystal Ray. Bubble and Bursting Balloon are their only answers to the Glaceon EX, but average flips and the second Glaceon-EX + Garbodor were key in many matchups.
VS Mega Gardevoir-EX (70/30): This deck runs zero good non-ex attackers, so Regice is the Pokémon of choice here, with Glaceon-EX being a good backup due to their low energy count and them needing three full turns to power up a basic Gardevoir EX to deal with it. There’s two ways to go about this matchup: lone Regice powered up and using Resistance Blizzard forever with NO benched Pokémon, or a full set up of various attackers with Garbodor to prevent their recovery and use of Hawlucha to reset the effects of your attacks. The Regice scenario without Ninja Boy is honestly unrealistic though, so it almost always goes to a much more complicated game and Garbodor becomes very important.
VS Yveltal (70/30): One of the deck's best matchups in theory, but it depends heavily on their Escape Rope Count. Making sure at least the first Jolteon-EX is powered up with 3 basic energy is really important here, in order to prevent an Enhanced Hammer + Team Flare Grunt combo to strip your Jolteon-EX off all it’s energy. Aside from that, just try to use Lysandre to target whatever attacker they have powered up and manage your bench properly to prevent an Yveltal BKT from having its way with your benched Pokémon.
VS Volcanion (60/40): One of the deck's toughest matchups because they always run Pokémon Ranger, so eventually there can be a point where they have gotten rid of Garbodor and use Ranger to OHKO your Regice or Jolteon-EX. This matchup is also one of the big reasons for running a thicker 3/2 line of Garbodor, as it’s essential to have it available early on AND all throughout the game.
VS Mega Ray (50/50): Another difficult matchup for the deck, as the successful lists are either using metal type support Pokémon (Jirachi and Magearna promo plus Magearna EX) and the basic Rayquaza EX can actually deal with Glaceon EX. Regice is king in this matchup but you have to manage your bench properly in order to prevent from having enough types where Magearna promo can come in and OHKO you. Raichu lists and Jolteon-EX lists are less popular but they both come with their own set up problems, s Raichu bypasses Regice, and Jolteon-EX lists can lead to a stalemate of sorts.
VS Turbo Darkrai (70/30): This deck’s speed is quite scary, but Rough Seas plus Regice or Jolteon-EX makes this matchup play out essentially very similar to Yveltal. This deck usually does run at least 2 Escape Rope, possibly 3, so it’s essential to have a back up attacker in case they find the Escape Rope + Lysandre combo, OR go for the lone Jolteon-EX strategy like in the Mega Gardevoir-EX and lone Regice scenario.
VS Mega Mewtwo (50/50): This matchup is VERY weird. Having Stadium control is great but only against inexperienced players who try to rush Mega Mewtwo to go for OHKO’s. More experienced players will most likely simply power up a Mewtwo EX with 3 basic psychic energy which will lead to a stalemate vs Regice. If you decide to use Glaceon-EX, things start becoming really weird with the Damage Change math, but overall this is a 50/50 matchup based on your opponent’s experience playing vs this deck and knowing how to play against it and it can easily swing from favorable to unfavorable depending on this.
VS Vespiquen/Zebstrika (50/50): This was a matchup I was not expecting to deal with throughout the day, yet I ended up with my only loss of the tournament against Top 4 player Carl Sitavi. In an ideal world Glaceon EX is king here, even if you can only 2HKO their attackers prior to finding Giovanni’s Scheme, BUT the Mew EX tech in that deck messes up things as it forces you to set up multiple Garbodor (in one game vs him I set up a total of 3!) since Mew EX bypasses Crystal Ray and can OHKO the Glaceon EX with Vespiquen’s attack, yet you never ever want to use Jolteon EX in this matchup, except maybe to close out the game vs a Shaymin EX loop.
VS Gyarados (70/30): Gyarados is a fairly straight forward matchup where it’s pretty difficult for them to deal with Gyarados, but their speed and potential Escape Rope count can actually make things tricky. Lucky Helmet is a new issue you have to deal with, and thus it’s always better to try and Lysandre and KO the Magikarp, to try and avoid activating the extra draw for your opponent.
VS Rainbow Road (30/70): This is actually an unfavorable matchup not only due to their speed but because of your low damage output and the fact that they should be running a Xerneas BREAK and therefore can bypass Jolteon EX’s effect fairly easily, along with having access to one or two Escape Rope, depending on the list, as well. Your very low damage output works against you in this matchup, as you can’t really pressure their high HP Xerneas and 2HKOing them means they can easily find their Xerneas BREAK as long as they’re not bricking.
VS Xerneas BREAK/Lugia EX/Snorlax GX (20/80): Another terrible matchup for this deck, as they have access to Lugia EX and Snorlax GX to pressure your Glaceon EX, and Xerneas BREAK bypasses both Jolteon EX and Regice. Usually one of your three attackers shuts down your opponent’s biggest threats, but in this case it’s incredibly difficult to do so as they have a wide variety of attackers to bypass whatever effect you’re currently going for.
That should cover the big decks in the format as of today, pre Sun and Moon, but if you have any questions please do let me know in the comments section and I’ll address them as best as I possibly can.
To close out this section, I just want to say that this deck did well because it was quite under the radar and a good metagame call due to people being unprepared and inexperienced in how to best deal with it. Now that there’s way more light shining on this deck, I wouldn’t be surprised if decks start running a higher Escape Rope count to combine with Lysandre on key turns OR start including a single Pokémon Ranger in their decks.
Now finally let’s move on to the report:
Round 1 vs Mega Rayquaza EX/Raichu (0-0-0): I certainly wasn’t expecting to be playing against this deck right off the bat, but as he went first I noticed Fire Energy in his deck. This calmed me a little bit as the metal version was a deck I was way more afraid of, BUT my heart certainly skipped a beat once he benched a Pikachu… Game 1 was a loss as he had a key turn to grab his last prize vs my Regice with a Raichu I wasn’t able to prevent from going up, where off of an N to 2 he found the DCE + Sky Field + Dragonite to fill his bench and sweep my Regice. I didn’t have a chance to set up Glaceon-EX this game, so that hurt me a lot. Game 2 started way better and I was able to control the game better with Glaceon-EX, and with Rough Seas healing, the basic Rayquaza EX was not an issue. Time finished in the middle of Game 3, in a game I felt I was very well-positioned to close out.
Round 2 vs Zygarde EX/Carbink BREAK (0-0-1): She was a newer player but she still gave me a run for my money. I couldn’t rely on Jolteon-EX due to Carbink BREAK, but then Regice was also iffy precisely because of the BREAK. Game 1 I was able to set up Regice without too much trouble and won with smart use of Rough Seas, but then Game 2 was very iffy where I had to bench many Pokémon before finally getting Regice active, so she was able to play around with Lysandre and almost closed out the game before time ended.
Round 3 vs Greninja BREAK (1-0-1): I read the pairings and saw Chris Schemanske and honestly got pretty nervous. I know he’s a really good player and at first I thought I’d be up against a weird Plumebox matchup that would most likely go to time, but he flipped over Froakie and I felt a lot more comfortable. During Game 1 I set up my Garbodor and Glaceon-EX, and took quite a bit of damage off of Bursting Balloons. He never tried to go for Bubble which made things easier, but towards the end I understood why, he ran Pokémon Ranger… This completely surprised me (I would’ve liked to see my own reaction to when he played it down for the first time), but he had already used up VS Seekers and he didn’t have enough firepower to bypass a second Glaceon-EX. Game 2 was more of the same, except I know knew he had the Ranger, and he ended up using the Ranger quite a few times throughout the game, but I was able to play around the Bursting Balloons a bit better to avoid having too much damage on Glaceon-EX.
Round 4 vs Jolteon EX/Pidgeot EX/Lugia EX/Garbodor (2-0-1): This game was very weird. He flipped over Jolteon-EX, and at first I thought I was up against a Raikou/Electrode/Jolteon-EX deck, but he started benching more Pokémon and I only had Shaymin-EX active, so in a deck out scenario, which I was almost sure would be the case, I would have the advantage. I was able to set up my own Jolteon-EX, and even after seeing that he kept digging pretty hard through his deck… because he actually ran Pokémon Ranger… This took me by surprise, and he was able to just steam roll my Jolteon-EX with a Lugia of his own. I didn’t have access to Lysandre to try and take it down before something weird happened, and thus he won game 1. Game 2 I was pretty much resigned to losing, but with smart benching, Rough Seas usage and finally access to Lysandre, I was able to outlast his 2 Lysandre, 1 Pokémon Ranger AND 4 VS Seeker into either of these supporters to deck him out in a Jolteon-EX vs Jolteon-EX scenario. We still had about 5-10 minutes for game 3 after this, but we both agreed there was never going to be a quick game between out decks and thus we simply agreed to the inevitable tie.
Round 5 vs Greninja BREAK (2-0-2): After seeing the Froakie, I felt really confident once again, specially after I got to go first, but my heart dropped when I used my Ultra Ball as BOTH Glaceon-EX were prized… I figured I’d have a decent chance to get either of them out by a T2 KO on a Froakie, followed by a T3 KO on a Frogadier, but alas my opponent flipped heads on Bubble and thus, I did KO one Frogadier but didn’t grab a Glaceon-EX. I decided to concede immediately afterwards and move on to game 2, where everything played out as usual, EXCEPT that my opponent flipped 3 out of 4 Bubble heads. Also, my Super Rod and 2nd Glaceon-EX were prized this time around. I had to resort to Shaymin-EX looping so my damage output was much slower and thus game 2 took much much longer than necessary. I did eventually win, on my LAST turn of the game as I would’ve decked out otherwise (thankfully he didn’t flip heads on the last Bubble flip), but despite being in a commanding position to take game 3 with Glaceon-EX and Garbodor set up, time was called and thus I was given a third tie for the day…
Round 6 vs Vespiquen/Zebstrika/Vaporeon/Mew EX (2-0-3): This was the match I talked a little about earlier; the Mew-EX made things very complicated, as they run throughtheir deck so fast that OHKOing Garbodor is fairly easy for them, specially when Glaceon EX is only 2HKOing Vespiquen. Eventually game 1 came down to either of us needing to hit a Lysandre or VS Seeker for the win and he drew it first. Game 2 was similar except he actually prized the Mew EX, and I was poised to win the match eventually with my last Lysandre, but after an N to 1 I never found it and thus between deckout or prizes I would’ve won to make this game a tie, but time was called and I never got the Lysandre.
Round 7 vs Gyarados (2-1-3): Probably one of the nicest opponent’s I’ve ever faced, game 1 played out fairly straightforward with Glaceon-EX just sweeping the Gyarados in two hits and smart bench management preventing him from having too many easy targets on the bench and through N, he was never able to find the Escape Rope + Lysandre combination. Game 2 though he was able to pull off back to back Escape Rope plus Lysandre to reset Crystal Ray’s effect and he was able to take that match. Game 3 played more normally and he drew average instead of godly like game 2, thus netting me the win.
Round 8 vs Mega Gardevoir EX (3-1-3): My opponent got a pretty bad start and I was able to simply set up 2 Regice, 2 Glaceon-EX, AND Garbodor before he even got a hit in, so he didn’t have enough firepower or resources to bypass my attackers. Game 2 was nerve-wracking as I got a pretty bad hand without any draw power, but with 2 Regice and enough resources to power up one of them. He was going first though, and the risk of turn 2 Mega Gardevoir-EX attacking was too high. He actually whiffed the turn 2 Mega, but I had no way to retreat my active Regice so I split the energy on each. This gave him a hard decision on which one to KO; the one with the Water energy or the one with the DCE, as he didn’t know if I had the correct energy follow-up in my hand (I had neither). Luckily for me, he chose to KO the DCE-attached Regice, and I top decked another DCE to have the perfect scenario of lone Regice and a few turns later he realized he had no way to deal with that, and therefore conceded.
Round 9 vs Turbo Dark (4-1-3): Game 1 was a pretty normal game, with Jolteon EX putting in the work, and him never hitting Escape Rope plus Lysandre together to deal with it. Game 2 was a whole other show though, as he hit Escape Rope plus Lysandre in one turn to OHKO my Jolteon-EX AND he hit it again after I used N as a follow up to his OHKO, thus getting rid of my 2 Jolteon-EX’s in consecutive turns… I had a Shaymin-EX on the bench so he had an easy target to finish the game there, but the follow up N never allowed him to get it and I was able to get rid of his attackers with Regice eventually after some nerve wrecking turns.
And thus, that concluded my Regionals run. The deck started running hot towards the end and the tie vs Greninja BREAK was heartbreaking, and to top it all off, tiebreakers shoved me down to 72nd place, thus missing out on the elusive $250 and 24 CP. I don’t regret my deck choice, I do kinda regret some card choices but in the end I played a slow/low damage output deck and lady luck punished me through my opponent’s hitting the nuts early on or the 2 Glaceon-EX being prized. Things completely out of my control and I still have an inkling that I’m due for a big showing at one of these Regionals soon, so hopefully Sun and Moon and Anaheim are the break I’m hoping for!
This deck is perfect for League Cups which are small and you know your local metagame and common opponents quite well, and thus know that Pokémon Ranger will not be a thing. If decks have the Pokémon Ranger teched in, your matchups overall become a lot worse, so keep this in mind if you want to try this deck at any nearby League Cups any time soon.
If you do decide to give this deck a run, this is the list I would advise you play:
- 3x Jolteon EX
- 3x Regice
- 2x Glaceon EX
- 3x Trubbish
- 3x Garbodor
- 2x Shaymin EX
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x N-supporter
- 2x Lysandre
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 4x Max Elixir
- 3x Trainer's Mail
- 4x Float Stone
- 1x Super Rod
- 5x Water Energy
- 5x Lightning Energy
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
This list is a lot more solid and straightforward and is what Grant Manley used to get 10th place at this very same Regional. It’s not teched out at all; it’s 100% pure consistency and I love it. The extra Garbodor makes it easier to set up early and in multiples of in matches where it’s crucial, such as vs Greninja BREAK or Volcanion and the extra attackers (Jolteon-EX and Regice) are the most crucial and useful ones, thus having more of them makes it easier to set them up.
With no Giovanni’s Scheme as a tech supporter, the Fighting Fury Belts become redundant, as you don’t need extra HP when in theory your opponent isn’t even supposed to be dealing any damage at all to you. This same logic applies to no Rough Seas, as why would you need to heal damage that is non-existent in the first place? No Stadium control definitely makes a me a little bit nervous, but other than a Parallel City (which is a lot less popular now) limiting your Regice or Glaceon-EX damage, there’s no Stadium that hurts you really benefits you, so it makes sense in this deck to just forego that control.
Now, all of this applies up to tournaments before the new Sun and Moon set is released. The new GX Pokémon are a whole new dimension of issues for this deck, as it’s a new ‘type of Pokémon’ that Regice doesn’t gain immediate protection from. There’s no attacker as of yet that prevents damage from opposing GX Pokémon and thus, whatever lock you decide to go for, such as Glaceon-EX vs Decidueye GX and Umbreon GX or Jolteon-EX vs Lapras GX and Tauros GX, can be susceptible to other GX Pokémon.
Another factor going a little bit against this deck is the fact that it’s now much more in the open. I had this idea back before the European International tournament but never took it seriously enough to experiment with, and only did so after I saw the Dallas results and how this and a Glaceon EX/Regice/Garbodor/Hammers deck made it to Day 2.
Going into Sun and Moon, Professor Kukui is an obvious inclusion to potentially replace the Giovanni’s Scheme from my list or an N from Grant’s. Nest Ball could be another card to be considered as it provides a similar effect as Ultra Ball and doesn’t require discarding resources, BUT you would never use it to fetch Shaymin EX of course, so perhaps as a 1-of inclusion if you feel like 4 Ultra Ball are not enough Pokémon search for your deck.
To finish this article, I want to talk about the big players coming out of Sun and Moon. I believe this set, specially the Grass Pokémon in combination with Forest of Giant Plants, will make a very big and immediate impact in the current metagame.
Tauros GX: This card reminds me of Pidgeot-EX but in a much more threatening way. With a Fighting Fury Belt and a DCE, you can lead with it, putting pressure on your opponent by dealing 70 damage off of a 220 HP Pokémon, and if your opponent deals damage back, you get to deal back that very same amount of damage with +20 bonus too! The GX attack is just absolutely insane though, especially in a format where OHKOing Tauros GX is going to be very, very difficult; dealing just 70 or 80 damage to Tauros GX immediately puts whatever Pokémon you have down in danger of getting OHKO’d back. If these cards' attacks were more costly it would definitely not see that much play, but Colorless requirements, and having access to Max Elixir and DCE means we will be seeing this card teched in quite a big variety of decks to add variety to your attackers.
The first deck that potentially comes to mind for the inclusion of this deck as a 1 or 2 of is Yveltal. You run 4 DCE, you can Y Cyclone energy back on to it and you could potentially include Ninja Boy to the list to surprise your opponent with Rage or the Mad Bull GX attack. Tauros GX also has the opposite Weakness and Resistance combo than Yveltal EX, so the type cover synergy is pretty obvious, and besides maybe Umbreon GX, there aren’t any other potentially useful GX Pokémon available for this deck. Other decks that could end up including this card could be Turbo Dark, Rainbow Road and even Pancakes (Xerneas BREAK/Lugia EX).
Umbreon GX: Can we remember how good and widely played Darkrai-EX from the Darkness Explorers set was when it first came out? Dealing 90 damage +30 to the bench for a DDC cost was really good because of Dark Patch, but now you get access to this attack for DCC along with an Energy Evolution ability Eevee. Umbreon GX definitely doesn’t have the raw power of Darkrai-EX, but as HPs get higher with the GX Pokémon and the game slowly transitions into a more evolutions-based game, I believe this card will truly shine with the right support. Its first attack, dealing 30 and switching, is decent enough in the sense that it can get you out of a sticky situation, but the GX attack is very interesting as well. Removing 2 energy from any of your opponent’s Pokémon in play could potentially buy you enough turns to slow down your opponent or grind out a win in a long drawn-out game where a lot of resources have been used up at that point.
The GX attack plays a huge mind game role, just like for Tauros GX, where you can use it at any time and your opponent must account for it, but as you have the control of the GX attack, you can see how well prepared your opponent is for such a scenario and thus can ultimately decide to choose to use it whenever it is the optimal choice or simply continue with the 90 + 30 damage barrage on your opponent’s Pokémon.
Decidueye GX: Forest of Giant Plants means you can have its ability up and running turn 1, and despite its attack not being too impressive, the GCC cost makes it decently easy to pay for and when you factor in the extra damage from the ability, it actually becomes quite a cost-effective attack. I’m still not entirely sure whether this card will be the main focus of a deck or a supporting cast for other attackers to get that extra damage in, but I could honestly see Umbreon GX + Decidueye GX paired up as a way to pressure both your opponent’s active Pokémon and their benched Pokémon at the same time.
The biggest issue with this card is that Volcanion EX decks will always be a thing, even if they’re not extremely popular amongst many of the top players, you can always be certain you will see it at tournaments, therefore a deck based completely on this card seems a it out of the question, as even running Silent Lab or Alolan Muk does not save Decidueye GX from getting OHKO’d by Volcanion EX.
Tsareena: Tsareena would never see play without Forest of Giant Plants, but having that available to you seems pretty good and I’m sure we will see some sort of control decks arise that abuse its ability. Looking at your opponent’s hand and discarding a card of your choice is something unheard of, but with Devolution Spray, Red Card, Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer and even Delinquent, there’s quite a lot of potential to completely get rid of any outs your opponents have in the first turns of the game to not go into top deck mode. Its attack is nothing too special, so once again we might see this Stage 2 as a supporting cast for other beefier attackers or disruptive ones such as Bunnelby or Hoothoot.
Shiinotic: The card that might make the use of Decidueye GX or Tsareena even more viable, as its ability Illuminate allows you to search for a grass Pokémon once during your turn. Setting up 1 Shiinotic will allow you to find the rest of the pieces of your Stage 2 Pokémon much easier throughout a game, and it can even be potentially paired with Vileplume although that seems less useful as you only require one Vileplume per game.
And that sums up my top 5 cards from Sun and Moon. I’m really looking forward to testing out the new cards and I can’t wait to see what Anaheim Regionals has in store for us.
And thus concludes my first article. I really enjoyed going in depth about my experience at Athens, and I hope to have more opportunities to write articles in the future! And of course I have to finish with a shameless plug of my Youtube and Twitch channels, both under the Tablemon name, where you can find me playing games and analyzing things play-by-play with a very wide variety of decks. You can expect a lot of Sun and Moon content once the set is available in the game!
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