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Kevin Kobayashi

Team Vespiquen and the future meta

Today I will be covering a few favorites from the current metagame, as well as looking toward the future of the metagame and a small portion on the team factor, as well as reading the metagame for your area!

09/16/2015 by Kevin Kobayashi

Hello, 60cards readers and welcome to another one of my articles. Today I will be reviewing the slowly developing metagame as well as checking out some predictions on what I had expected the metagame to become. Also, I would like to write a little about tournament preparation, including how to properly call your metagame.

When I first reviewed Ancient Origins, I was really interested in the amount of new strategies that they wanted to incorporate into the game. It even looked like they brought back a few old favorites from years back. Cards such as Vileplume, Ariados (which is similar to Skuntank G), and the Eeveelutions were very interesting...etc. While I have been sitting in the backseat so far this year, I still think about card combos on occasion and have been wondering about how this current metagame will develop. The powerhouse of the set was undoubtedly Vespiquen, which was Flareon from the past metagame but stronger. I like the card overall and thought that it might be powerful when combined with something like Night March. My prediction was correct: virtually every time I check tournament results, I find Night March/Vespiquen in the Top 4 of an event. The only events going on at the moment in the United States are League Challenges, which are similar to Battle Roads. These tournaments are small, but still provide information about the metagame and which decks will see play for the upcoming Expanded Regionals.

The top decks for Expanded seem to be something like Manectric/tech, Vespiquen/Night March, Archie’s Blastoise, and I’ve seen quite a bit of talk on Seismitoad/Giratina. There are other decks, of course, but these are the primary contenders. It’s interesting to note that there is virtually no sign of Sceptile-EX, a card that seemed to garner a ton of hype upon release but has fizzled into nonexistence since. For those of you who have a ton of Sceptile, don’t fret. The card will be playable in the future, but at the current moment, decks that abuse Battle Compressor are simply too powerful.

The metagame is kind of like this at the moment:

Battle Compressor deck > EX deck > Lock deck.

Vileplume has not seen play because it cannot beat decks that have built in acceleration such as Manectric-EX. If Manectric is ever able to attack, it will roll the Vileplume-based decks with ease. Alternatively, Vileplume decks are still a coin flip matchup versus Battle Compressor decks. The reasoning for this is because Compressor decks only need to go first to beat any other deck with the right combination of cards. Draw power is so strong right now that even if the Vileplume player has turn-two Vileplume or even turn-one...it still has to go first and establish the lock or it will get steamrolled. This is really unfortunate, because Vileplume was supposed to solve the issues of decks that commit to Item-based draw engines.

My expectations on the metagame and the reality of the metagame were kind of close. I failed to recognize Manectric as one of the stronger decks, and I completely missed Giratina as a strong partner to Seismitoad. Manectric makes so much sense at the moment. Vileplume would discourage Trainer-based decks and encourage anything that can accelerate energy easily. Anything that wants to beat Vileplume has to outspeed it or accelerate without having to dig for Energy (the deck has to operate on many energy), and have a decent amount of bulk, meaning that it would want to be a Basic Pokémon-EX. Manectric fits the bill, and it has been destroying League Challenges with Water partners such as Regice and/or Articuno. The deck is very basic, has little to no gimmicks, and operates after just two attachments. Vespiquen was my pick to dominate League Challenges and it has been successful at doing just that. Stage 1s are very dominant at the moment, which is a nice change of pace. The ability to deal 200+ damage and only give up one Prize card is astounding, especially in a game where we have been playing with almost exclusively EX cards for the past three years.

Archie’s Blastoise will continue to be good as long as Vespiquen will continue to be good. The decks run off of such a similar engine. Battle Compressor is the only reason why these decks can be so powerful from turn one. Until Vileplume finds a way to even further suppress their speed, they will destroy the metagame. Seismitoad/Giratina is also interesting, winning the Arena Cup recently. It does make a lot of sense. Seismitoad just needs to provide an early game-lock to deny setup versus Vespiquen/Stoise, which is still a gamble, but the deck will dominate EX-based decks thanks to Giratina-EX, which is incredibly powerful as is. Locking in Virbank City Gym and hitting a Hypnotoxic Laser heads cause trouble for any deck, but gives you a little bit of “oomph” versus Stage 1 decks. If you can Sleep them, they will be Knocked Out going into your turn, giving you a Prize and another chance to attack without your opponent being able to. Two Sleep heads might be too much for a Stage 1 player to ever recover from, especially if they’re under a Quaking Punch lock.

       

Going back to Sceptile and other cards that may have not delivered as expected yet, I suggest that you hold on to them and just be patient. It’s very common for cards to be released and not even be remotely playable until two or more sets later; take a look at Gengar-EX, for example. The card couldn’t even be played in a deck until closer to Nationals, where it started to dominate with Trevenant as a partner. Wait until Sceptile fits the proper metagame and you will see that the card does have a place in the game. It just needs the right moment to shine. Until then, bide your time.

Now that i’ve gone over a little bit about the metagame, I would like to share with you something a little more informative. That is, being confident in your deck choice thanks to being able to read the metagame. Also, I will be covering a small segment on teams, and whether you should consider making a team or not.

Metagaming can mean the difference between an 0-3 drop, or a 9-0 sweep.

I’ve been playing this game on and off for almost six years now, and until recently, I did not understand the concept of what makes a “metagame.” Every area in the world has a slightly different metagame. Metagame, summed up, is basically a combination of players who favor one or a few decks more than another area. For example, this year, I knew that Florida players had a very strong favor of playing Seismitoad and Flareon-based decks. In Georgia, I knew that Seismitoad was also a favorite. In the Midwest, players had preferred to play decks such as Landorus/Crobat and Manectric, etc.

You can do some digging on Facebook and check tournament results to find out what players seem to favor in an area. This is especially useful for players who want to earn “easy” invites by traveling to areas that they may be unfamiliar with. Marathons are notorious for metagames, and one player has the capability of showing up with a deck that may not be accounted for, and dominating the event with ease. Reading the metagame is very difficult if you have no outside sources or no team to rely on. You can make predictions on your metagame but you will never be truly accurate if you have no one to confirm your predictions. At every event before I lock in my sixty, my team and I will go over what we think the most played decks will be. From there, we construct a deck that is capable of beating those decks, and typically one or a few of us will do very well at the event.

What I am suggesting if you want to read a metagame is firstly, join a team or construct a team. Teams should always be able to provide for you. The best way to start a team is to firstly consider who you would want in your team. What does this person provide? Do they have credentials similar to or greater than you? Do they provide something unique that no one else can provide? Do they put in the effort and time like you? Do they want to win as badly as you do? Can you trust this person not to leak decks?

All of these questions are very important in regards to constructing a winning team. There are so many good players out there who fail to recognize this, and can’t ever seem to break through into stardom. If those players actively searched for others who would help them make even slight improvements, they would be able to achieve what they want in the game, While Pokémon is an individual game, it requires a team effort to get all of the work done in a realistic time frame. You can spend weeks on a deck that is terrible, only relying on your own confirmation bias as the reason why you have lost the past ten games but haven’t given up the deck.

Ironically enough, this happened to me at nationals when I tested my own Trevenant list for hundreds of games. It got to the point where adding Latios to donk turn-one and adding Raichu just started to make no sense, and my team got me to play an incredible Seismitoad/Garbodor list instead, which I am very grateful for. We all tend to have some great ideas, but together you can create decks that you wouldn’t be able to if you were alone. Confirmation bias and ego in this game...and competition in general is something that humans tend to overlook, and once we lose we can’t seem to figure that out, making the same mistakes over and over again.

It is always good to look ahead, but you have to be realistic and focus on the present as well. When I talked to other players, I noticed all of the hype for cards that I knew wouldn’t see play (Sceptile, namely). You just need to be able to rationalize how powerful some of these cards really are. Vespiquen is dominant. If your deck is unable to beat Vespiquen, then there really is no point in even continuing to test that deck. Luckily, there are ways to beat it, but it takes the right amount of knowledge and preparation. The current metagame isn’t too poor, but my gripes with it are that Compressor decks are still way too powerful. It’s not that I’m surprised about that, but it’s a shame that since there are so many powerful EX cards, Vileplume can’t really stand up to both EX and non-EX decks. I predict that in the future, this will change and Vileplume will become a little more powerful.

In regards to the metagame and teams, you just have to keep figuring things out on your own. It’s easy for someone to tell you how to do something, but if you never take the time to learn on your own, then you will never be able to do these things on your own, and for lack of a better judgment, you will make mistakes that could be very costly. I hope that you enjoyed my article even if it didn’t have too much direction. My next article will be posted on the 29th, and I plan to hopefully review the “BREAK” set, because there are a ton of very new interesting cards in the set. Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  It truly means the world to me. Hope to see you all soon!

Kevin

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