Secrets behind Flareon
It’s great to be back so soon, and this time with a very technical article that really explores Flareon’s contents, matchups, and it’s place in the newly emerging metagame.
03/11/2015 by Orion Craig
WARNING: this isn’t your momma’s deck analysis. This is practically an encyclopedia detailing Flareon’s decklist, match ups, and place in the metagame. I’m talking 655- words-just-about-Eevee amount of detail. Together, we’ll be getting to know Flareon better than you know some your own family members. I mean it. How tall is you Uncle? Yeah, I didn’t think you knew. Flareon is 2’11” of pure, unadulterated Vengeance. This article will be long, and sometimes excessively so, but I decided it’s better to include too much information and let you scroll past what you already know, rather than leave something out and have you asking questions later. Now, due to the tendency for certain parts to drag on, I’ve tried to fit a lot of light humor and sarcasm into the article. I hope you enjoy!
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Table of contents
Hello and welcome back to 60cards.net! It’s great to be back so soon, and this time with a very technical article that really explores Flareon’s contents, matchups, and it’s place in the newly emerging metagame. After reading this article it is safe to say you will be well on your way to either mastering Flareon or expertly plotting against it. Without further ado, let’s dive headfirst into Flareon!
- 3x Eevee
- 4x Flareon
- 1x Eevee
- 3x Leafeon
- 2x Empoleon
- 2x Ditto
- 1x Swirlix
- 1x Slurpuff
- 1x Mr. Mime
- 2x Jirachi EX
- 2x Exeggcute
- 2x Audino
- 4x Acro Bike
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x VS Seeker
- 1x Computer Search
- 1x Float Stone
- 1x Training Center
- 4x Battle Compressor
- 1x Town Map
- 2x Silver Bangle
- 3x Professor Juniper
- 1x Archie's Ace in the Hole
- 1x N-supporter
- 1x Lysandre
- 1x Lysandre's Trump Card
- 4x Double Colorless Energy
- 1x Grass Energy
- 2x Water Energy
This card choice is a perfect example of how impactful some of the smallest changes can be. Believe me when I tell you there were four or more games at the Florida Regional Championships when playing the PLF Eevee won me the match, and ultimately the tournament. If you’re wondering how this slight adjustment could be so impactful, then you’re in the right place. Let me break it down for you point by point.
1) 60 HP
PLF Eevee has 10 more HP than it’s more common FFI counterpart. This may not sound like much, but in the current metagame there is a huge difference between 50HP and 60HP. Let’s go over the situations when this is relevant:
Seismitoad needs a DCE and Muscle Band+Hypnotoxic Laser or Laser+Virbank to take a one hit knock out. This can result in Eevee taking a punch on turn 2 and surviving, or even pulling off a successful Signs of Evolution without getting knocked out to keep you attacking under trainer lock. This is a similar case against Non-EX Yveltal and Thundurus EX.
If Landorus EX/Bats goes first, you won’t be able to evolve your Eevee before Zubats start evolving. Golbat’s Sneaky Bite+Landorus EX’s Hammerhead only nets 50 damage on a benched Eevee, meaning they need an entire extra Golbat to get those early game knock outs on your unevolved attackers. Additionally, Sneaky Bite+Crobat’s Surprise bite or Skill dive barely misses the knockout as well. This does a whole lot to sway the matchup in Flareon’s favor. Think about it: if you have Mr. Mime on the bench, Sneaky Bite+Surprise Bite isn’t even enough to take the knockout. Unless they are able to spend two Crobat evolutions on a single Eevee, your little fox will remain safe next to Mr. Mime.
2) Signs of Evolution vs Energy Evolution (Signs and EE for short)
Now, I know what you may be thinking, “Why would I use an attack to search out an evolution when I could just evolve on the same turn using FFI Eevee’s Energy Evolution?” I understand your train of thought and how alluring the idea of a turn one evolution may be, but there are a few reasons why Signs may actually be better.
First and foremost, the deck only plays one grass energy. I’ll get more into why later, but just stay with me on this for now. With only one grass, the frequency of pulling of a successful and, most importantly, effective EE is nearly zero. I actually only did this once throughout FL Regionals. Second, Energy Evolution is only able to get Leafeon due to the lack of fire energy in the deck. Leafeon is only particularly good against Seismitoad EX, so EE is practically useless in many matchups**. Third, Signs allows you to get Leafeon and Flareon when you’re under trainer lock to either attack with or discard on the following turn with a Juniper or Ultra Ball. Lastly, only your single grass energy can EE into Leafeon. Signs, however allows ANY energy to keep you dishing out blows.
3) You can still use Energy Evolution
Right now I still play one FFI Eevee. This means that, when needed, you can simply Ultra Ball for the FFI Eevee instead of PLF and pull off an EE. Because of the 3-1 split in Eevee, you can maintain nearly all of the benefits of PLF Eevee, and still pull off a clutch EE when you happen to run against a Toad and have your one grass in hand.
*If you thought I was bluffing when I said this was everything you needed to know about Flareon, please enjoy the following 655 words about Eevee. Yep, that’s over an entire page about one card. To quote John O., “Wow, you put way too much thought into this deck.” Well said, John.
**Note: You can attach a water or grass to EE and search your deck just for the purpose of seeing what’s in your prize cards even if you don’t want a Leafeon. Since your deck is private knowledge you do not have to grab an evolution, and you can even do this without playing a water evolution for Eevee in your deck. This is infrequently useful, but worth mentioning.
This little Emperor Penguin is something of a game changer, solving many of Flareon’s pre-Primal Clash problems. To understand this fully, let us explore the many uses of Empoleon together.
- Majorly helps swing the Landorus EX/Bats matchup into Flareon’s favor. In the paraphrased words of Jose Marrero after we played in top 32, “You play too much stuff to help you beat Landorus/Bats for me to win.” Empoleon is able to land those much needed one hit KOs on Landorus at any point of the game for just one energy, and his bulky 140 HP (or 170 with Training Center) is extremely hard for Landorus to deal with.
- Provides additional draw support and extra ways to discard Pokemon, particularly useful under trainer lock.
- Combats Silver Mirror since he is not a plasma Pokemon. I didn’t expect to see Silver Mirror at FL Regionals, but this will definitely be more relevant in coming tournaments. Silver Mirror can only be attached to non-ex Pokemon, and Empoleon’s heavy damage output should dispatch of them with relative ease.
- Dishes out heavy damage on turns you or your opponent play Lysandre’s Trump Card. This is especially useful in mirror match or against Night March. If you are able to Trump Card and take a knockout with a 140 or 170 HP Empoleon, both Night March and Flareon decks will have a hard time mustering up a response. Be careful, though, because Empoleon does have weakness to Joltik, allowing for a much easier knock out. It is advisable to try to wait until Joltik is off the field before performing this move.
- Swims as fast as a jet boat. While I am unsure how this helps Flareon, I just thought you ought to know.
This adorable jelly blob has a few uses, but his purpose mostly revolves around sitting comfortably in your discard pile next to Leafeon and Mr. Mime swapping stories and sipping coffee until you are paired against Landorus/Crobat. Ditto is nice to leave on your bench while you thrust Flareons at your opponent. Once all of your Eevees have fallen, you are able to Trump Card them back into your deck and immediately evolve into Flareon thanks to Ditto’s Transform ability. Additionally, if you evolve using a Ditto, when your Flareon is knocked out you get three additional pokemon in the discard instead of only two. This is great for replacing supplemental damage from a Silver Bangle. Lastly but far from least, Ditto is great to protect your Eevees against Landorus/Bats. Watch out for Silent Lab and Garbotoxin, though.
This sweet and slobbering ball of cotton candy need not be forgotten in favor of Empoleon. Slurpuff is excellent to provide draw support during those games where you simply cannot seem to get Empoleon out by using Archie (I’m looking at you, Seismitoad). You can win plenty of games with Empoleon sitting cross-finned next to Ditto and Mr. Mime in your discard while Slurpuff fills the support role perfectly.
One word: hammerhead. Need I say more? This little guy just hangs out in your discard unless you’re playing against Landorus EX/Bats, or if you need fodder for your opponent while you take a turn to finish setting up. Mr. Mime can really relieve the early game pressure Landorus EX applies to your benched Eevees and Jirachi EX, meaning he fills a crucial role in this matchup.
The reasons for playing Jirachi in nearly any deck are so obvious I won’t even go any further than directing you to read Stellar Guidance. I just want to explain why there are two of these frail EXs in the deck, whereas most people opt to play one.
First, Flareon is a unique deck because your only attackers are non-EX Pokemon, yet you are able to take one hit KOs against the bulkiest Pokemon EX. This means you will be gaining two prizes per attack to your opponent’s one. If your opponents does happen to Lysandre a Jirachi EX active, you can rejoice knowing your Flareon is still alive, they didn’t play a Trump Card, and you’re just going to take two prizes back by knocking out out whatever they’re using against your Jirachi EX.
SPOILER ALERT: starting with Jirachi EX is lame. Super lame. However, since Flareon’s prize trade is so good (two for one, remember?), you can totally stand to lose two prizes due to a Jirachi start. Plus, Jirachi is your bulkiest starter in the deck, so there is a pretty good chance they won’t even take him down until turn two or three, giving you plenty of time to set up.
While I understand starting with Jirachi is worse than having to clean your room or study for finals, the benefits of playing two far outweigh the cost. You are able to play or discard one Jirachi early game, and still have that much needed stability late game offered by Stellar Guidance. Plus, two Jirachi helps you pull off crazy Archie or Lysandre plays just by having an Ultra Ball in your hand. With two Jirachi it’s much less likely that prize cards can mess you out of early game stability as well. If you simply refuse to play two Jirachi in your deck, do yourself a favor and at least put another Pokemon in its place. Playing only 23 Pokemon would make those big hits so much harder to pull off.
Free Ultra Balls and Computer Search? I’ll take two sunny side up, please. Honestly, though, two Exeggcute is so amazing to help Empoleon come out with use of Archie. Being able to discard your choice of zero, one, or two cards with Ultra Ball and Computer Search makes Archie a breeze. And you know what else? These protein packed Pokemon aren’t even bad to start with. Exeggcute tends to be knocked out just in time for a Flareon to come in swinging, and his water resistance can leave a Toad with egg on his face. Anything that makes Toad sad makes me happy, so two Exeggcute is a clear must-have.
Healing 10 damage and a special condition comes in handy so often I could probably write a mathematical proof showing Audino is the greatest thing since a sad Seismitoad. Or at least I think I could. On second thought, I think I’ll stick to writing about Pokemon.
First, this card is fantastic against Hypnotoxic Laser. Seismitoad’s primary answer to Leafeon is Laser+Virbank, and Audino stops this strategy cold by removing poison. Furthermore, I want to you envision yourself never again losing to Hypnotoxic Laser coin flips putting you to sleep. If the thought of this doesn’t leave you with a grin, you’re either Grumpy Cat or a Seismitoad staring down an opposing Exeggcute.
If you ever find a group of Flareon players huddled together, do yourself a favor and throw a Town Map into the middle of them and listen to the roaring debate that ensues. This is one card Flareon players simply cannot agree on.
At FL Regionals, I believe Flareon could afford to fit in Town Map for the added stability it provides. It allows you to play yourself into a dead hand, such as opting to VS Seeker for Lysandre instead of Juniper, only to get going again by using Vengeance to draw a Juniper or VS Seeker out of your prizes. Additionally, Town Map helps keep to you going when multiple DCE, Eevee, or Flareon are prized if you can muster just one attack. Sadly, I don’t think this card will remain in the deck for future tournaments due to changes in the metagame. With the coming spike in Flareon hate and mirror matches, this card spot may be best reserved for something that can help sway a tough counter deck or the mirror match, such as Xerosic for Garb/Silver Mirror or perhaps even a Silver Mirror of your own.
Archie’s Ace in the Hole
This card’s use is pretty singular, so I won’t bother going into too much detail. Archie is used solely to get Empoleon onto your bench as quickly as possible for all the utility Empoleon brings to the table. No matter what list changes you decide to make for States, you need to consider whether those changes will make it harder to use Archie by filling your hand with unplayable cards. Ultra Ball and Computer search are the only things that can help remove certain extra cards from your hand. Things that prevent an Archie to consider are:
Having more tool cards than Pokemon without tools attached
These can call result in leaving you with unplayable cards, thus stopping you from using Archie. Instead of playing another energy, perhaps try out a Professor's Letter instead. If you need the energy, Professor's Letter can search it out. Alternatively, you can fail your search when you play Letter to reduce your hand size if an Archie is on his way. Small considerations like these have the potential to greatly impact your games.
Lysandre's Trump Card
Playing this card may seem strange at first. Let me start out by saying you will not play this card every game. While heavily dependant on matchup and play style, I personally only play this card once every four or five games. While of course you will play this card almost every Night March or mirror matchup, this card goes heavily unused otherwise. On occasion, however, you will run out of Eevee, DCE, Flareon, or some other card instrumental to your victory, and then you will truly understand why Flareon plays Trump Card.
IMPORTANT: 99% of the time you Trump Card you will want to pull all of your eggs out of the discard. In doing so you are able to Juniper, Ultra Ball, Computer Search, or Diving Draw them into the discard without wasting a Battle Compressor. This is pivotal to your success with Flareon. Oh, and please don’t forget to use VS Seeker before shuffling your supporters back into your deck.
The energy line I played at FL Regionals was very unique. Most Flareon decks tried to run two or three grass to help with Energy Evolution, however, due to running only one FFI Eevee, I favored cutting my grass toavoid having excess energies in my hand, thus preventing an Archie’s Ace in the Hole. Two grass and one water seemed to be a viable option at first to aid in easier Leaf Blades, but I ended up going with two water to help against Landorus/Bats by enabling Empoleon to attack more frequently.
Deoxys EX has been a staple in Flareon for quite a long time. However, starting with Deoxys is arguably worse than starting with Jirachi due to his higher retreat cost. Additionally, I feel confident enough against Seismitoad that I don’t find Deoxys necessary. The primary reason to play Deoxys is to allow for easier one and two hit KOs with Leaf Blade and Energy Crush, but, with only one grass energy and the threat of Garbodor nullifying Deoxys EX, this strategy seems unviable.
This brother of plasma Leafeon has made his way in and out of Flareon since the beginning, and in preparation for Regionals I decided to cut it for a few reasons. The lack of FFI Eevee and low grass energy count means that, more often than not, Soothing Scent would be too little, too late. Additionally, his lack of water resistance makes him more vulnerable to Seismitoad EX. Lastly, Soothing Scent Leafeon is best to slow down Landorus EX/Bats early game, which is a matchup I feel is already covered by Empoleon. I opted instead for a third plasma Leafeon to help improve my matchup against Seismitoad variants.
Before I get into the matchups, I’d like to talk about arguably the most important concept in Pokemon: tempo. Games with Flareon, and games in general, tend to follow a certain flow, or tempo. They’re typically made of up an early game where each player tries to set up or prevent the other person from setting up (gain tempo), and build into a back and forth trade of one hit and two hit KOs. I urge you to watch game two in the below video against Jose Marrero. You’ll see Jose and I building up our field, until eventually I take the first knock, he return KO’s, I return, etc. Right now more than ever, Pokemon is about tempo, so pay attention! Imagine the following scenario:
Two decks that play only 4 Mewtwo EX, 4 DCE, and various trainer cards go head to head. The first player (we’ll call him Albert) attaches DCE and passes, the second player (Bruce), attaches DCE+Muscle band and takes the first two prizes with X Ball. Albert manages to get a return KO with a Mewtwo of his own, followed by Bruce getting his own revenge knockout. If the game continued this way, Bruce would always be one step ahead, and the game would end 2-0 prizes in Bruces favor. In this scenario, Bruce “has tempo.” He is always at least one step ahead of Albert.
Now, imagine instead that after Bruce takes the first knockout, Albert attaches a DCE and Muscle Band of his own, and puts a Headringer on Bruce’s benched Mewtwo. Albert takes his two prices, and Bruce is unable to attack due to Headringer demanding an additional energy. Albert takes another knockout before Bruce can successfully attack, and now Albert has two prizes remaining to Bruce’s four. If things continue this way, Albert will win 2-0 in prizes. This is a perfect, albeit basic, example of tempo. Albert was able to “gain tempo” by using Headringer to take the lead.
You can gain tempo in many ways. Some of the most common are Max Potion, Headringer, retreating your active after taking a hit, using 1 non-ex and 3 EX attackers to make your opponent “take seven prizes” (say they take four from EXs, one from a non-ex, and then two more from an EX to end the game. They have essentially had to do enough attacks to take seven prizes), Enhanced Hammer, Super Scoop Up, Scramble Switch, and the list goes on and on.
Decks such as Aromatisse and Seismetoad EX focus on Max Potions, Enhanced Hammers, Headringer, etc and can be thought of as anti-tempo decks because they try to force the opponent to fall behind by failing to attack, or simply absording a hit and healing the damage away. In a way, you can say they gain tempo by sort of stealing it from their opponent. Decks like Flareon, contrarily, are positive-tempo decks that try to acquire tempo by dealing the most damage faster than anyone else. Flareon being worth only one prize card helps to accomplish this goal. Lastly, decks such as Landorus/Bats are an interesting mix. Heavy aggression from Landorus and Crobat create a positive-tempo feel, and Super Scoop Up combos nicely as an anti-tempo card.
Without understanding the fundamentals of tempo, you will not understand one of the major building blocks of Pokemon, or any strategy game for that matter. I cannot stress how important this concept is, and Flareon is no exception. Tempo is important to consider when thinking of new ideas, fine tuning a deck, teching for matchups, and during gameplay. I honestly do not feel like I’m exaggerating when I say that understanding tempo and all of its implications could be the difference between winning a tournament and ending your day at the bottom tables. In one of my below games against Jose, the stream casters continuously suggested I should forfeit and move on to another game to save precious time, but I was able to see a scenario in which I could gain tempo in the match. I went on to barely win the first game because of this. If I had forfeited as suggested, the match could have ended in a tie or worse and kept me out of top 8.
If you haven’t seen it already, here is a great video of two Flareon vs Landorus games. Not only are these games excellent to watch, they really showcase how the matchup plays out most of the time, and reinforce the concept of tempo. Check it out!
During the early iterations of Flareon, Landorus EX/Bats was always seen as one of Flareon’s worst matchups. The amount of pressure Landorus is able to put out from turn one tended to be too much for Flareon to handle, primarily because of Eevee’s 50 HP and weakness to fighting. In fact, until the discovery of Empoleon+Archie, Landy Bats was the sole reason I was going to play a different deck for Regionals. Let us first review some of the cards that help this matchup the most, followed by a general analysis of how the matchup flows.
Eevee is one of the worst starters in this matchup because beginning from turn two a Sneaky Bite+Hammerhead is able to knock out both your active and one benched Eevee. This weakness is overcome by playing Mr. Mime and PLF Eevee. The 60 HP found on PLF Eevee is enormously useful in this matchup- a must have to consistently beat Landy Bats.
More so than Eevee, however, the addition of Empoleon is game-breaking. Getting an early Empoleon out commonly decides whether or not you lose the matchup for a pretty obvious reason: Attack Command swiftly dispatches of Landorus EX due to weakness, allowing you to one hit KO for a single water energy. Let’s take a deeper look at what this means. You could start your turn without a single Eevee on your side, staring down a Landorus EX preparing to tear through your remaining Pokemon. With a successful Archie, however, you will be able to take down Landorus immediately, and threaten a knock out the following turn if they have another on the bench. While they scramble to defend against Empoleon, Flareon is surely readying for an onslaught of return knock outs. Lastly, Empoleon’s 140 HP makes him nearly impossible for Landorus to knock out in one hit, so you’re almost guaranteed three or four prizes with the poignant use of a Lysandre. This really allows Flareon to kick back and fill a supporting role for once, with Empoleon taking point.
Finally Mr. Mime gets a break from the discard (until an early game Lysandre has something to say about it). This card’s use is pretty much a given: Mr.Mime prevents your opponent from pressuring your bench with Hammerhead, keeps your Empoleon near full HP until you’re ready to use Attack Command, makes attacking with Crobat almost a non-option, can cause them to two-hit KO a clean (undamaged) Flareon, protects your benched Jirachi EXs, and the list goes on. Mr. Mime being prized isn’t the end of the world (see game one in the video), but it is definitely a reason to shed a few tears. Be careful of a well-timed Silent Lab to shut off Mr. Mime, however.
This pink jelly blob’s use is pretty straight forward. Benching a Ditto instead of an Eevee puts your opponents in a weird spot. Do they try to kill the Ditto using Crobats/Hammerheads, which will use up resources to make you Eevees safer, or do they focus on other options and let you freely transform Ditto into Eevee followed by an evolution into Flareon? Not only does Ditto provide you with options, but causing your opponent to make decisions like these can sometimes cause them to misplay. If they overvalue Ditto and waste a Lysandre or Sneaky Bite+Surprise Bite+Hammerhead on it, this use of resources could save an Eevee or Jirachi EX from an unfortunate demise later in the game. If they undervalue the Ditto, it can result in a Flareon dishing out some serious hurt on the following turn. Once again, be prepared for a Silent Lab to shut off your Ditto in a worst-case scenario. This is a card that many Landy Bats players have teched into their deck after the release of Primal Clash for situations such as these.
Never underestimate how game changing healing 10 HP can be against Landorus. If they Hammerhead a benched Flareon, Audino messes up the Strong Energy+Muscle Band math for the KO.
A game against Landorus/Bats is never, ever easy. Their deck needs so little to apply heavy pressure and gain tempo that a slow start can spell defeat. However, that’s not to say Flareon is without options. Do your best to get a Mr. Mime and two Eevee on your bench ASAP. If you must make the decision between benching two Eevee or one Eevee one Mr. Mime on turn one, I would go for two Eevee. The reason being Eevee’s 60 HP means they would need Lysandre+Sneaky Bite+Sneaky Bite+Hammerhead to take a double knockout. With one Eevee and one Mime, however, they only need a Lysandre to make quick work of Eevee. I foolishly made this mistake against Jose Marrero in top 32, and it almost cost me the game. If you are able to get full HP Flareon’s going, it can be really difficult for Landorus to take one-hit KOs, giving you a huge advantage. Getting a Training Center can really help in this regard as well, assuming they don’t immediately draw a counter stadium.
Unfortunately, things don’t always start off how you’d like them to. Never fear, friend, because your friendly neighborhood Emperor Penguin is just the thing to sway the game back to your favor when things go awry. Empoleon being able to take two, three, or even four prizes before defeat can single handedly bring you back into the game. One of the biggest mistakes a Landorus player can make against Flareon is benching two Landorus at once. This allows Attack Command+Lysandre and another Attack Command to net you a four-to-one prize trade. Typically, a good Landorus player will attempt to thwart your Empoleon with Lucario EX, due to his weakness to psychic instead of water. In these cases, try to hold onto your Float Stone to retreat into a Vengeance KO. This is not always possible, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) making sure you get set up early game is really important. You can’t afford to let Landorus continuously take KOs on Eevee. Bench lots of Eevee, Mr. Mime, and Ditto. Get Empoleon out ASAP, even if it means playing a Jirachi EX or two down, and try to hold Float Stone to retreat Empoleon to save him for another Landorus KO.
Ah, finally we get to talk about my personal favorite Eeveelution: Leafeon. This darling of a pokemon really gets a chance to shine against anything Toad based, and Yveltal makes this no exception. If you’re lucky enough to get a grass energy and Silver Bangle onto an Eevee before Seismitoad starts punching your face in, you’re set for a pretty easy game. Leaf Blade makes quick work of Toad, and your resistance to water means you will survive two or even three attacks, ultimately winning the prize trade. Worst case scenario, energy crush is usually enough to take the two hit KO.
You’re probably getting sick of hearing this, so I’ll be brief. SIXTY HIT POINTS IS REALLY IMPORTANT. I hope that’s sunk in by now. If you’re still tempted to play mostly FFI Eevee, please stop that. The extra 10 HP makes Toad and non-ex Yveltal use more resources to take early KOs. ‘Nuff said.
With Leafeon being your primary early game strategy, your opponent will try in vain to Hypnotoxic Laser your Leafeon for extra damage. Audino is crucial to keep Leafeon alive in these situations. Additionally, never underestimate a healthy Hip Bump as a last ditch effort to end a Quaking Punch lock.
While this card isn’t exactly a star player, I figured this would be the best place to make a quick point. Any time your opponent breaks the trainer lock, it is extremely important you play every VS Seeker in your hand to convert otherwise useless cards into powerful supporters. Try to make sure you predict what you will need in the following turns, and grab supporters accordingly. Grabbing two Juniper isn’t as crazy as you might think because you opponent may play an N and shuffle them into your deck, increasing your odds of drawing a Juniper later on.
Woah, hold up there, Orion. 70-30 sounds a little nuts to me! Could you please elaborate? Of course, dear reader! At first I thought myself a little crazy for putting that number down, too, but let’s take a deeper look. For starters, it’s worth mentioning my final record against Yveltal/Toad variants at Regionals was 5-0-1. I understand that’s only 6 matches, but keep in mind these were best of three games against some of the best players in the country, including two separate best of three matches against former National Champion Justin Sanchez. As you might expect, he was the one tie I received.
Secondly, let’s take a glance at how this matchup plays out. If your opponents gets a turn one (going second) or two (going first) Quaking Punch and you get a slow setup, you’re completely and totally done for. WHAT THE HECK, YOU SAID THIS WAS 70-30! Yes, you’re right, I did say that, didn’t I? Let’s evaluate what I just said. They need to attack with Toad the very first turn they are able and you have to get a slow setup. If either one of these conditions aren’t met, the game immediately begins to heavily favor Flareon. There are so many things that could inhibit an early Toad lock, such as starting with anything other than Toad, missing the DCE, finding yourself with a less than amphibian filled hand, etc. And to make things worse for their froggy future, a turn one or two Empoleon backed with Leafeon swarm can make quick work of their ribbiting reinforcements regardless of their start. The moment Yveltal EX is forced to come out and deal with a stubborn Leafeon, you are free to play trainers and Flareon picks up the slack for Leafeon’s lackluster damage. Once you factor in a clutch Audino here and there to Hip Bump and break the lock, it becomes clear Flareon is the favorite to win.
Let’s look at some examples together, shall we? If you opponent tries to exclusively use Seismitoad EX, two Leafeon is realistically all you will need to bully them out of the game assuming nothing crazy happens with Hypnotoxic Laser and sleep flips. To effectively deal with a Leafeon, they need Toad, Muscle Band, DCE, Lasers (notice the plural), Virbank(s), and a Garbodor with a Float Stone, if they even play it. What do you need? A Leafeon or two with an energy. To top it off, a strong start means you will have a thin deck due to Battle Compressor and Acro Bike, and hopefully an Empoleon to keep you going. 70-30 doesn’t seem so crazy now that we’ve done some deeper analysis, does it?
Moreover, if they trend away from Seismitoad and focus on Yveltal EX, you’ll quickly win the prize trade with Flareon going two for one. Sure, with your opponent’s use of Lysandre’s Trump Card you may miss the one hit knock out a time or two, but every time they play it you get all your Flareons and Silver Bangles back to keep swarming.
But, but, but, what about Garbodor, Orion?! This noxious assortment of unwanted items can certainly make things more difficult, but take a moment to think about all the resources I’ve already said they need to keep pace with you. If you think Garbodor will be easy to get out, think again. When Garbotoxin does eventually take effect, it is commonly too late for it to make a large impact on the game. Again, if they have an ideal open hand for an early Garbotoxin+Quaking Punch, this can cause an extremely quick defeat. Realistically, however, this does not happen very often.
TL;DR Use Leafeon to pressure them into attacking with Yveltal EX, and counter with Vengeance. Don’t underestimate Signs of Evolution to search out Leafeon under trainer lock, and try to get Silver Bangles down before Quaking Punch starts up. Hold Audino in hand to remove poison when possible.
This matchup is all about tempo. Historically Night March is one of Flareon’s worst matchups because both decks play very similarly, only Night March is all basic pokemon while Flareon needs stage one pokemon to operate. Fortunately, Empoleon does a lot to help this matchup.
A mid game Empoleon+Lysandre’s Trump Card can really mess up Night March's plans. It is best to use this combo when your opponent doesn’t have a Joltik on the bench due to Empoleon’s lightning weakness allowing them to get an easier return knock out.
Lysandre’s Trump Card
Mid-Late game Trump Cards can cause Night March to miss a KO and gain you tempo. Always keep in mind that Trump Card makes any VS Seekers they may have in their hand useless as well.
Never underestimate Hip Bump’s usefulness against Joltik. Any time you can preserve a Flareon by using Hip Bump I highly recommend doing so. Plus, it’s just so satisfying to attack with Audino, and he really enjoys the exercise.
When you just can’t seem to draw a Flareon, Energy Crush is surprisingly useful due to Night Marcher’s low HP.
Just kidding, he’s useless. Sorry Mime, but you’ll have to spend this game in the discard pile again. =(
This is certainly one of the strangest and hardest matchups for Flareon. On one hand, you want to spam Trump Card and hope they miss the resources necessary to take a knockout, but on the other you want to run them out of DCE so they are forced to use Mew EX to attack, giving you a shot at two prize cards. As mentioned previously, the two decks are really similar, except Night March doesn’t have to spend a turn evolving before they can attack. This means whether they go first or second, they get the first opportunity to taking a knockout and gain the lead. The only exceptions to this being if they open Joltik and attach a DCE, and you open FFI Eevee and your single grass energy, enabling you to Energy Crush for the knock out, or a Hip Bump takes the KO. You will almost always be making up for lost ground in this grueling slugfest of a matchup for this reason.
So, how do you gain tempo against what seems like a hopeless matchup? Since this matchup is pretty simple, let’s break it down into a list of easy to follow Dos and Don’ts
- Play Lysandre’s Trump Card at opportune times. Remember, though, sometimes it’s best to hold off and try to run them out of DCE. If that doesn’t seem like an option, however, don’t be afraid to spam Trump Card and hope they fail to draw Battle Compressors.
- Use Empoleon after a Trump Card when they do not have a Joltik on the bench. This can make it very hard for Night March to return the KO.
- Playing an N when their prize count is low and they do not have a DCE on a benched attacker can single handedly win you the game. If they do have a backup DCE, however, I recommend opting for Trump Card instead, and simply hold on to the N for next turn.
- Aggressively search for a way to take a knock out every turn. In some matchups, spending a turn to set up can pay off in the end game, but this is not one of those matchups. You need to be as aggressive as possible, including using Hip Bump and Energy Crush when fitting.
- Use Slurpuff if you can. Often times you can’t afford to have both Empoleon and Slurpuff on the bench, due to needing large amounts of Pokemon in the discard. However, Night Marchers have extremely low HP, so you don’t need to worry about discarding very many Pokemon. The extra draw power provided can help you draw the Flareons and DCEs you need, while simultaneously recovering faster from Trump Cards.
- Sneakily take all of their Night Marchers out of their discard when they look away. Just kidding guys, that’s cheating.
- Avoid playing Jirachi EX whenever possible. This is one of the few matchups where having two copies of Jirachi EX in your deck can really hurt. Ideally, you want to leave your field with non-EX attackers, and capitalize on their use of Mew EX to gain tempo. This is not always possible if you have to play down Jirachi EX thanks to Lysandre. However, if playing down Jirachi EX makes the difference between attacking and passing your turn, you’re better off using Jirachi.
- Leave yourself weak to Trump Card. If you think theres any chance your opponent may play a Trump Card next turn, seriously consider using your VS Seeker preemptively. They also want to play Trump Card in hopes you miss a knockout, so don’t fall prey to your own strategy.
- Waste Silver Bangle. Sometimes it can be tempting to a haphazardly attach or discard Silver Bangle due to your opponents non-EX attackers. This can leave you weak to a Mew EX+Hard Charm+Trump Card causing you to miss a KO. When possible, play a Silver Bangle onto an Eevee and save that Eevee for last.
- Steal your opponent’s Night Marchers. Seriously guys, this level of cheating could get you disqualified or worse.
TL;DR don’t bench Jirachi if possible, Trump Card+Attack Command when Joltik is out of play is potent, use N to make them whiff resources, Hip Bump is awesome against Joltik, try and force them to use Mew EX.
This matchup is so one-sided I won’t spend too many words explaining it. If you play a handful of games you’ll understand quickly why this is heavily in Flareon’s favor.
This guy deals insane damage against Primal Groudon EX for only one energy due to grass weakness. Groudon requires four energy to attack, meaning Leafeon+Silver Bangle does 220 damage for one measly energy. Good luck keeping up with that damage, Groudon. Even if they manage to Scramble Switch into another Groudon, a backup Leafeon will make quick work of him, too.
Honestly, I don’t feel this matchup requires much explanation, but I’ll say a few words anyway. If possible, do not start with Eevee. I would almost go as far as to say you are better starting with Jirachi EX over Eevee, provided you have a supporter card in hand. Non-EX Landorus does an excellent job of knocking out Eevees before they have a change to evolve, and, since Leafeon is your primary attacker in this matchup, your Eevees need to live past the early stages of the game. If you are able to get a Flareon or Empoleon to start taking knockouts against their Landorus swarm, Leafeon will make quick work of the inevitable Groudons. Even if they use Focus Sash to protect their Landorus, they are commonly three hit KOing or more against your Flareon or Empoleon. To make matters worse, their Hawluchas are completely useless against you for obvious reasons. I feel the only way this matchup goes south is if you start with a really atrocious opening hand and they have the opportunity to knock out multiple Eevee before you get going.
This is a really great matchup for Flareon. Every time I have seen this matchup play out, it ends with either a win or tie for Flareon. If you didn’t pick up on my sarcasm, I feel sorry for you and all the bad jokes you’ve had to endure throughout this article.
If they do not run Empoleon or have problems getting their own Empoleon in play, this matchup suddenly ends up in your favor. Attack Command+Lysandre’s Trump Card+Training Center is a really powerful combination in this matchup, and you should use it whenever you can.
Lysandre’s Trump Card
Your use of this card is identical to the Night March matchup. For the sake of brevity, just scroll up if you’ve forgotten.
No, not your Jirachi EX. Don’t be foolish enough to play him down if you can avoid it. Your opponent’s Jirachi EX, however, can really help you win the matchup. If they are forced to play Jirachi EX to use Stellar Guidance, a late game Lysandre from you can be the key to winning the game.
If you expect a lot of mirror match or Lugia EX at your local State Championship, you may want to consider dropping either Town Map or the 4th Acro Bike for a Silver Mirror. If you make this choice, do not make the mistake of attaching it to your Flareon. An opposing Empoleon will make quick work of you in this case. Instead, try to save it for your own Empoleon. When your opponent ultimately fails to one hit KO with an Attack Command of their own, try to retreat with a DCE and Vengeance their Empoleon. If you are able to pull this off, victory is at your fingertips. Worst case scenario you can always try to Trump Card your mirror back.
This card is the obvious counter to Silver Mirror, and it has more uses than just mirror match. You can use Xerosic versus Garbodor to catch a break from Garbotoxin, try to break a Toad lock by removing a DCE, remove a crucial Muscle Band, etc. Xerosic is even stronger when you consider using two Jirachi EX to search for it.
Similar to Primal Groudon EX, I don’t feel this matchup requires much explanation. If you understand how your deck works, you inevitably understand how you opponent’s deck works as well. Just imagine you are playing against Night March and you will be fine. Having a better opening hand than your opponents helps, too.
The only time this matchup becomes particularly interesting is when either player doesn’t play Empoleon or when they use Silver Mirror. If you are unlucky enough to run up against a Silver Mirror without a Xerosic in your deck, just hope they didn’t read the above portion where I talk about attaching it to Empoleon and you should be OK. Otherwise… I’ve got some bad news for you, bud. If they don’t run Empoleon, abuse your own Empoleon+Trump Card+Training Center combo and victory will come pretty easily.
This matchup depends heavily on which variant you are against. An Aromatisse variant that runs Kangaskhan and Hard Charm is extremely hard to beat, whereas a Gardevoir/Florges based variant is in favor of Flareon.
I know this seems obvious, but due to every other attacker being pretty lackluster in this matchup, I thought Flareon deserved some love. Go get ‘em, tiger!
Against Kangaskhan, Empoleon can usually survive one Wham Bam Punch. This is a useful trait for sure.
You need to treat these cards with the respect they deserve. If you mistreat your Silver Bangles you will surely lose this matchup, no matter the variant. The key to winning is building up for a one hit KO, and this goal is realistically unobtainable without Silver Bangle.
Both of these matchups are pretty straight forward: build up a choice selection of Pokemon in your discard pile and Vengeance for a lot of damage. There isn’t much else to it. I’ll elaborate on some of the specifics, however.
I’ll start off talking about Aromatisse/Kangaskhan. This matchup really depends on only one thing: can your opponent get Kangaskhan+Hard Charm+Aromatisse in play quickly enough to thwart you. A lone Kangaskhan without Aromatisse is an easy two hit KO, but Aromatisse combined with Max Potion grants your opponents a whole lot of tempo. They’ll be able to absorb your Vengeance with ease, simply healing off the damage with Max Potion after Max Potion. If they get a slow start, however, and you are able to knock out Kangaskhan with use of Silver Bangle, you have a pretty easy game ahead of you. Every move you make should focus around keeping Kangaskhan out of play.
Moving along to Gardevoir based variants makes for a much happier Flareon player. Gardevoir’s more flimsy 210 HP makes for an easier one hit KO, meaning you are able to stick to your normal strategy of giving up one prize card in order to take two. Additionally, while 210 HP may sound a little intimidating, keep in mind Aromatisse decks tend to be slower, meaning you have plenty of time to discard Pokemon in preparation for their attacks. If you opponent plays Lysandre’s Trump Card you may struggle a bit, but all in all this matchup is in your favor.
This matchup depends a lot on coin flips and your opponent’s deck list. Whether or not your opponent plays Super Scoop Up, Slurpuff, and a few other choice cards discussed below can swing this matchup heavily either way.
This verdant Pokemon is so good against Toad there should be songs written in his or her honor. Once again his resistance to water, unique ability to deal heavy damage to Seismitoad EX with few resources, and potential to get out of hand with Leaf Blade is crucial to winning this matchup.
Similar to the Yveltal EX matchup, Audino is crucial for removing special conditions and Hip Bumping unsuspecting frogs.
Unlike Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX, simplified Toad decks tend to play Enhanced Hammers which can really mess up your game plan. By utilizing basic energies on Leafeon, they are forced to use Team Flare Grunt or flip a coin for Crushing Hammer.
In this matchup, Mr. Mime fills the crucial role of sitting around in your discard doing a whole lot of nothing. Major props to Mr. Mime for making this sacrifice. We love you, buddy. We should totally do lunch together sometime. OK, OK, any further Mr. Mime jokes will be discarded and forgotten quicker than a Mr. Mime vs Seismitoad.
I know you probably hate me for being so vague by simplifying this down to Seismitoad variants as a whole, but I’m sure you understand these deck archetypes are similar enough that each one does not deserve its own section. Anyway, you might be surprised to see I listed straight Seismitoad as harder than Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX. The reason for this is Yveltal’s relative uselessness against Flareon. Whenever Yveltal attacks, you get to go crazy with trainer cards. Against straight Seismitoad, however, they are far more likely to get a turn one Quaking Punch lock. Additionally, the extra card space afforded by removing Yveltal means Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, Super Scoop Up, Slurpuff, and/or a potentially thicker Garbodor line are very real possibilities. Lastly, simplified Seismitoad decks have more freedom to use Lysandre’s Trump Card due to needing less resources to keep swarming. Let’s go through these eventualities in an orderly fashion.
Crushing Hammer/Enhanced Hammer:
It can be really hard to get through your deck under trainer lock. For this reason, energies can sometimes be hard to come by. Whenever you have a hand with two or three energy, try to hold off on playing a Juniper or N if possible. It is crucial to get your energy in play when you can because I promise you the hammers are coming. If Toad is unable to take a knock out against your Leafeon, you’d better believe your opponent will do what they can to prevent you from using Energy Crush and Leaf Blade by removing your energy.
Super Scoop Up:
Unlike hammers, there really isn’t much you can do to counter this card. Sadly, Leafeon will be taking a two or even three hit KO against Seismitoads, and Super Scoop Up can make things even worse for you. The ability to heal a Seismitoad to full while preserving DCE and Muscle Band can be a defining factor in your defeat.
If you thought Super Scoop, hammers, and Trump Card were annoying, you’ll be even more aggrivated when you see how Slurpuff allows them to draw into these cards more often. Imagine the feeling of your opponent playing a few Super Scoop Ups and hammer early game. You think to yourself “Whew, he’s running out of resources. The game is in my grasp!” only to watch him Trump Card all of these back into his deck, and quickly draw into them again using Tasting. What a crushing blow to your psyche. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much counter play to Slurpuff. Even if you have the option to Lysandre and knock out a benched Slurpuff, simply attacking a Seismitoad EX is usually the correct play due to how quickly Slurpuffs can be replaced.
Garbotoxin. Need I say more? Garbodor’s use is pretty obvious, so I don’t see a need to elaborate much. He can be annoying to shut down Energy Evolution, Diving Draw, Tasting, and Transform. Honestly though, I’d be happy to see a Garbodor because Slurpuff is probably a harder matchup overall.
Lysandre’s Trump Card:
Once again the use of Trump Card against us is pretty obvious. Trump Card+Quaking Punch makes Flareon nearly useless, meaning you will have to rely on Leafeon and Empoleon to do much of the leg work for you.
Overall, this matchup is pretty luck based. If you draw what you need and they flip tails on Super Scoop Up you’ll be fine. Otherwise, you have a pretty uphill battle ahead of you. The bright side of it all is the current format does not lend itself to straight Seismitoad decks. Overall, Groudon EX, Yveltal EX/Seismitoad EX, and Gardevoir EX/Aromatisse handle simplified Toad decks really well, so hopefully you will not be unlucky enough to play against this dreaded matchup.
After Flareon’s success at the Florida Regional Championship, the metagame is sure to see a shift. I’ve heard rumors that Flareon is sold out nearly everywhere and Leafeon’s price has doubled or more. One fellow player has even told me Ditto is selling for as much as $10 on some websites. It’s no surprise that Flareon will see a whole lot more play at the coming State and Regional Championships, meaning you will need to adjust your deck construction and/or deck choice accordingly. Let start off with some changes you may want to consider if you plan on using Flareon.
I covered the uses of this card in the Flareon mirror matchup, so I won’t go into too much detail here. To summarize, an Empoleon with a Silver Mirror attached can spell defeat for an opposing Flareon deck. Even if the other Flareon player has Xerosic in their deck, it can be difficult to one hit KO an Empoleon the same turn they Xerosic, especially if you used a Trump Card before bringing out Empoleon. Additionally, the amount of times Jirachi EX will be used to search for Xerosic could cause them to lose tempo in the mirror match.
I know I bashed Xerosic just moments ago, but you may want to consider this card for a few reasons. It removes Silver Mirror, albeit under ideal circumstances, and it has more uses than just mirror match, unlike Silver Mirror. I wouldn’t be shocked if Toad decks became more popular, and Xerosic provides an answer to their Garbodor and Double Colorless Energies. Xerosic also has fringe uses to remove Strong Energy, Plasma Energy, Muscle Band, etc. Finally, decks other than Flareon may be cheeky enough to include a Silver Mirror. In these matchups, Xerosic will be a much more viable option.
It needs more Audino!
If Toad starts popping up more and more, a third Audino may need to find its way into your deck. Audino is excellent for removing the poison and sleep conditions cause by Hypnotoxic Laser, and Hip Bump can provide much needed relief from trainer lock.
More grass energy:
I hate to say this because of how hard it can be to find room for more energy, and the more energy you play the harder it can be to pull off a successful Archie. However, you have to be willing to adapt to the metagame. More grass energy will help you Energy Evolution early game, and Leaf Blade will become more of a reality for you. This can really sway the Seismitoad matchup.
If you do manage to fit additional grass energy, FFI Leafeon can become potent against Seismitoad. The ability to put a Toad to bed with Soothing Scent early or mid game can allow you to play trainers for longer than your opponent likes. Watch out, though! FFI Leafeon does not resist water, so he will be easier to knock out than his plasma counterpart.
Adapting to and predicting a new metagame is a trait that can separate the top echelon of players from the middle of the pack. The age old question in this case becomes “If I expect more Flareon, then I should expect more Flareon hate. If Flareon hate primarily consists of Seismitoad and Kangaskhan decks, maybe I should forego playing Flareon and play something that counters Toad instead.” This rock, paper, scissors mentality is ever present in Pokemon, and now is no exception. If Toad, Kangaskhan, and Yveltal/Toad (many believe this deck does well against Flareon. I seriously disagree) become popular in an attempt to thwart Flareon, Primal Groudon suddenly becomes an excellent choice. If you are able to avoid the Flareon matchup long enough to let other decks take them down, you are almost a shoo-in for top cuts in this example.
All that I’ve said here applies nicely to the current metagame as it stands, but you should always be on the lookout for new ideas. To be honest, the current metagame is pretty underdeveloped considering only one Regional Championship and a handful of League Challenges have taken place since the release of Primal Clash. Maybe you could be the one to discover the next metagame defining deck! Stay vigilant, my friend, and, as always, practice, practice, practice.
I’ll see you next time,
P.S. Seriously guys, if you liked this in-depth style of article, be sure to share it. I would love to do another detailed analysis of something you’re interested in, but I’ll only get that opportunity if you share this article and get a friendly debate roaring in the comments section below!
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