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Kevin Kobayashi

Another In-Depth Look at Seismitoad-EX

Kevin Kobayashi talks about Seismitoad, its viability in the current Standard format, new ways to build the deck, and options that the deck has never had before.

12/09/2015 by Kevin Kobayashi

Preface:

This new Cities format feels very fresh and full of life. I am really enjoying the variety of decks that I play against in Cities and online. BREAKthrough, originally viewed as an underpowered set, seems to be everything that this game has wanted since they rotated to HeartGold & SoulSilver in 2011. Standard rotated a lot of strong cards and as a result, has created a slower, more challenging metagame for players to experience. While many still complain about the state of Standard format, I think that it is fairly balanced. I think it’s safe to say that this is the best format we’ve seen in a long time, and by the looks of it, it’s only going to get better with the next upcoming set.

More importantly, today I want to take a look at Seismitoad in Standard as I have done almost all of my testing with the deck. I want to discuss the viability of a card that most players have dismissed. I see Seismitoad as a legitimate contender, although I do not believe that others share the same sentiments. Hopefully after reading this, you will learn a bit about what tricks Seismitoad still has under its sleeve.

Why is Seismitoad not winning as often anymore? What gives?

Seismitoad in the previous format had access to two key cards: Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym. Losing these two cards is especially devastating for Seismitoad players because they function so effectively with Quaking Punch. Regardless of what cards replace these two, the deck will still be much less powerful. Quaking Punch’s damage output is far too low, and these cards did a great job at increasing the deck’s overall damage output, providing Seismitoad with much more pressure.

It’s also worth stating that the “current” metagame no longer supports Seismitoad. Jirachi XY67 is a problem when played in multiples and can be played in every deck. Sceptile is beginning to be recognized as a strong card, and Yveltal XY is more annoying than ever. Despite these things, Seismitoad still has ways to win; they just require a little bit of a different game plan.

More on the Toad:

I took Seismitoad/Crobat to a City Championship over the weekend. Unfortunately, I forgot to add a crucial four-of when writing out my list (Trainers’ Mail), and dropped three games to dead opening hands. I was too greedy when writing out my deck list and added copious amounts of Crushing Hammer and Super Scoop Up, totally ignoring my PTCGO list which had a maxed-out amount of Trainers’ Mail, one of the most important consistency cards in the deck. It was only after the tournament that I realized why I was drawing so dead every game!

My City Championship would have gone much better had I remembered Trainers’ Mail. The three games that I opened dead could have gone far differently had I drawn into something that could net me cards and get me set up! Despite this, I was still able to snag four wins and watch the deck execute the Judge + Quaking Punch strategy perfectly. I took easy wins off of Lucario/Crobat multiple times, one of the deck’s better matchups. I watched as most of my games went exactly as planned, Judging the opponent and Quaking Punching as they struggled to find any way to respond. While they struggled, I continued to pressure what they could set up. In some cases, my opponents had no choice but to attach to things that they normally would never attach to (attacking with Golbat, Shaymin-EX, anything that they could draw into). My hand after a Judge only increased, and I was able to hold strong Supporters while burning my Crushing Hammers when necessary. In some cases, I would wait until my opponent attached two Energy to his Pokémon-EX and brought it Active, only to drop four Crushing Hammers and remove all of his Energy in play. The threat was now stuck Active under Item-lock. My opponent scooped shortly after.

Control is the name of the game:

Seismitoad is almost an entirely different deck in this format. The game is much slower, but the explosive turn-one opening is still crucial. Having access to strong disruption cards after a Judge is what keeps the deck in contention, and allows you to advance your position. You want to ideally remove Energy after playing Judge, putting your opponent into a situation where four random cards have to give them a Supporter and an Energy card, or they will be draw-passing while you continue to dominate their field. Judging into removal cards such as Crushing Hammer, Xerosic, or Team Flare Grunt can be devastating if the opponent passes or is unable to respond. In the case of removal Supporters, you would use them the next turn if the opponent passed. In this case, you start to tighten the noose and establish complete control.

The game only gets easier if the opponent requires more setup cards. The most difficult decks to beat will be the ones where the strategy simply relies on attaching and attacking (which most vanilla Pokémon-EX do), so matchups like Manectric and Sceptile become even more difficult. When you play versus decks that need a Stadium, Special Energy, extra Evolutions, etc. the game becomes easier. You’re ideally trying to put your opponent off of their setup by one card; maybe they keep whiffing their Double Colorless Energy or their Stadium. Regardless, you have to deny them their resources or they will outspeed you.

So we take a look at this list and see that most of it looks fairly standard. The Crobat line is heavy, providing extra pressure. The fourth copy of Golbat is really nice to ensure that Quaking Punch will hit for 50 or more if you draw into your damage amplifiers (Giovanni’s, Judge). The Supporter line is very disruptive and gives you more ways to control your opponent’s board. High counts of Crushing Hammer and Super Scoop Up, both very important cards. Judging yourself into Crushing Hammer is very strong. Super Scoop Up is one of your ways to switch, deny Prizes, and deal more damage. Both cards give Seismitoad more oomph and a way to snowball games out of control. When you flip heads on these cards, they cause havoc to the opponent’s board. Denying Prizes after they’ve invested in knockouts and denying Energy while under lock put enormous amounts of pressure on the opponent.

You want to open with Seismitoad, a Double Colorless Energy, a way to draw cards (such as Sycamore or Ultra Ball to search Shaymin-EX), and a way to set up Zubat on the Bench. If you go first, do not attach the Double Colorless Energy (assuming that you open with it), as it could easily be removed since your opponent will have a chance to play Items before you lock them up. You can and should try to attach a Muscle Band to your Seismitoad, as your opponent will have a chance to cripple you with Head Ringer. After the first turn of the game, your opponent should no longer have access to Item cards. Quaking Punch your opponent while setting up Bat Evolution knockouts. I typically focus on whatever my opponent is attaching Energy to. The quicker you remove the threats from play, the easier the game becomes. Threats such as Jirachi and big Pokémon-EX need to be pressured the moment they hit the field.

Smart play with Judge means looking for clues as to what your opponent’s current strategy is. Look for their expressions when they draw; do they look like they still think they can win? Do they look defeated? What nonverbal cues are being transmitted? All of these questions need to be answered before you can safely and effectively play Judge. Sticking Judge alone is gigantic. When you draw into removal, the game will end immediately in some cases.

Customizing the list

You can change the deck around to suit your metagame. Regirock/Smeargle/Fighting seems pretty strong versus a metagame full of Manectric-EX. I played Regirock with three Fighting and was able to win against Manectric this weekend, although I have not tested Smeargle yet. One thing you have to make sure that you do is disrupt your opponent so that they can never Lysandre and Knock Out your Regirock. I typically try to Crushing Hammer and Judge before setting up Regirock, and once it hits the field, you can expect your opponent to scoop their cards up.

Dedenne is a nice splashable tech versus Yveltal, and does quite a bit of damage with Muscle Band and Giovanni’s Scheme. You have ways to bait the opponent right into the Dedenne; the crucial part of this is Benching the Dedenne at the right time.

I have played 2-2 Octillery to decent success. I raised my Judge count and played the deck in a way where I was Judging almost every turn, and guaranteeing that I would draw out of it thanks to Octillery. Once Octillery hit the board, you could guarantee that you draw whatever you need. It was very good but reactive; I would play this if I knew that I didn’t have to tech for a really bad matchup (like Sceptile or Manectric).

I also really like Super Rod and Buddy-Buddy Rescue. Both cards are valuable recovery agents and give one-of techs more security in a deck that already plays such a high Sycamore count. Buddy-Buddy Rescue’s downside of giving your opponent a Pokémon is almost irrelevant. You will play the card when you’re about to end the game (recovering a Crobat piece to deal end-game damage), or in some cases you’re so ahead that it doesn’t matter if they recover a Pokémon or not.

Rough Seas is interesting and a great way to bump your opponent’s Stadium. Denying their Stadium is big in a lot of metagame matchups, as I have begun to see many more lists play high counts of Stadiums, and most notably, it helps your Night March matchup). Also a great card to deny Bat damage and heal while you watch your opponent draw/pass!

The future of Seismitoad:

I don’t think that many players will play Seismitoad initially; the current hype decks are Yveltal/Fighting, Manectric variants, and Lucario/Bats. A finely tuned Seismitoad deck can beat all three matchups, and I hope to show that soon with a couple of Cities finishes. The new name of the game for our beloved overlord is disruption. Any Seismitoad player that wants to do well is going to have to find a way to build with disruption in mind. More cards are being released in the latest set that should help Seismitoad dramatically, notably Delinquent, a card that removes three cards from your opponent’s hand if there is a Stadium in play, and then discards the Stadium. It’s really nice way to disrupt, especially considering that there isn’t a really good replacement Stadium for Virbank City Gym.

I’d like to thank you all for taking the time to read my article, and I want to encourage you to continue testing Seismitoad, regardless of what your buddies say about the deck! It is still a powerhouse full of strength; you just have to be creative! As always I would like to thank the 60cards staff for giving me the chance to write and let my voice be heard. It isn’t every day that you find a place where the owner and staff are so generous! Good luck at City Championships this weekend if you’re going, and feel free to message me if you want some pointers on your Seismitoad deck. Thanks!

 -Kevin

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