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Kevin Kobayashi

Tales of Trevenant

Kevin Kobayashi takes you through his month long process of preparing for Florida Regionals...

03/15/2016 by Kevin Kobayashi

Kevin Kobayashi takes you through his month long process of preparing for Florida Regionals along with in depth analysis regarding our Trevenant BREAK deck, and why even a bad tournament run isn't always as bad as you may think.

Preface:

Hello 60cards readers and welcome! Today I will be highlighting the Trevenant deck that recently won FL regionals over the weekend. Before anything else, I want to thank Travis Nunlist and Jay “the invisible hand” Dang, who invested equal amounts of time and effort into building and testing the deck. Of course I wouldn’t be capable of deckbuilding without guidance from my team either. I’m fairly close to my world’s invite and a new format was probably my best shot at proving that I was capable of building a winning list. It was Jay's first regional so he wanted to have a breakout run, and Travis was trying to get his worlds invite in less than 6 tournaments. We all had strong reasons for deciding to collaborate on a deck. Jay is a newer player from my area and Travis is one of my longtime friends. I was stoked to be able to work with these guys and testing was a grueling yet successful process. As pretentious as it may sound, we all are very proud of what we accomplished together. 

Sentiments aside, I have quite a bit to talk about today so I would like to get started.

Preparing for Florida

After Virginia regionals I was quite frustrated. I started the tournament 4-0 and ended 5/3/1. I made multiple misplays toward the end of the event and removed myself from what should have been a free ride to top 32. I questioned where I stood in the game and was tired of providing excuses as to why I was unable to perform when it mattered. I was determined to win the event, no excuses. Before I did anything else, I wanted to figure out what decks I had to beat to win FL regionals. After Virginia regionals, I quickly came to the conclusion that Florida’s metagame would revolve around four specific decks. I built some skeleton lists for all of these decks and used resources to make sure that the lists were strong enough simply so I could get an idea of how each deck operated.

Sableye/Garbodor: Objectively the strongest deck. Puzzle of Time put it into another spectrum of playability. Trainer lock was its primary issue. It required a brilliant player to shine, someone who was excellent at time management. Also, going to time every round would be brutal through 9+ rounds. I did not like the autoloss against Trevenant and the seemingly grindy matchup against Seismitoad.

Yveltal/Archeops: Fairly strong before the new set and even stronger with it. Incredibly consistent and one of the safest choices for a blind metagame. This deck initially wasn’t on my radar but because it won Virginia and then saw a ton of play the following week I knew that I would have to deal with a large amount of Yveltal.  It had solid matchups against the field because of the mixed amount of threats and unpredictable nature of its turn one. This was indeed terrifying for a group testing Trevenant for such a staggering period of time.

Seismitoad/Crobat: The deck is always relevant but seemed to be a terrible play against the projected metagame. Most matchups would be grindy. This might be the first event where not even I could consider play Seismitoad EX and that should speak for itself. In my games against Seismitoad EX I never felt less threatened by the card. Trevenant was an autoloss. 

Trevenant: Assuming that you trainer lock on your first turn, this was the best play as long as you could go even or better against Yveltal. With the consistency in expanded it was probable that you could achieve a turn one lock majority of the time. Turn one trainer lock is unrivaled, the only other deck that can trainer lock on the first turn of the game is Vileplume, but Vileplume locks both players which creates an issue in itself.

I wasn’t sure how much of each deck would see play aside from Yveltal but I knew that having strong matchups against these decks would yield convincing results. Trevenant looked promising with the latest set. It received a major buff in Ascension and most importantly, Trevenant BREAK. The card solved a lot of key issues that Trevenant suffered from in previous formats. With the BREAK increasing Trevenant’s HP to 160 and a new attack that only took one energy with Dimensional Valley, it suddenly had enough strength to feel like an tournament winning deck. I decided to focus on testing Trevenant and ignoring everything else.

We quickly began to see major issues with Trevenant early in testing. The deck needed to explode turn one and stabilize its lock throughout the game without investing in cards that weren’t flexible leading into late game. It was difficult to fit everything with only 60 cards and especially challenging to find cards that functioned to provide multiple uses after the first turn. For example, it would be easy to play four level ball to increase your chance of the turn one Wally, but you would suffer late game by drawing extra level ball. These cards were practically dead after turn one. Trevenant felt like a different deck if you ever went second, so there had to be some way to slow down the opponent on turn one to prevent them from overwhelming you with a strong setup. This was especially prominent in testing vs Yveltal and was almost convincing enough to give up playing Trevenant halfway through testing. Fortunately we were able to find counters to give us a better chance at facing Yveltal while keeping the deck’s consistency in check.

Each card had to provide as much versatility as possible to be relevant when finishing games. Even after this, there had to be some sort of back up plan for when things went wrong such as missing the turn one or drawing a dead hand against a particularly bad matchup like Yveltal. Most cards had to be played at a maximum count for consistency and this ironically enough hurt your consistency in the late game. I would often play Wally turn one and then never care to see it again. It was a dead draw late into the game where I needed to finish games but playing extra copies of cards like Lysandre would only damage your chances of hitting the turn one Trevenant. I could have easily fit 80 cards in here and still felt like there wasn’t enough room for everything. It was frustrating trying to maximize consistency while straying from traditional builds because there was no solid skeleton to work from.

The list eventually began to function as a pure lock deck, where I decided to play multiple Delinquent and Red Card with Shrine of Memories and the Phantump that uses Astonish. The deck could easily put an opponent down to a zero card hand at any time during the game. This variant was very strong but struggled against Yveltal going first, and if you were unable to find the combination for any reason you were going to lose. The testing team was split on just how good this list actually was and we decided to pursue other options in hope of creating a list that had more of an answer to Yveltal going first.

After more testing and a bit of advice from one of my teammates, we were able to recognize that Trevenant could potentially abuse a tool card such as Assault Vest. While we did moderate amounts of testing with the card it still did not feel strong enough against the field. Assault Vest did lead us to our next card which birthed the deck itself. Burst Balloon was exactly what Trevenant needed to go toe to toe with Yveltal. Turn one Trevenant with Burst Balloon felt absurd. It created mind games with the opponent and solved another issue that Trevenant had which was the lack of damage to clear big threats off of the field. Anything that could quickly pressure Trevenant was going to be difficult to beat. Trevenant deals small amounts of damage to everything, but is incapable of dealing enough damage to delete EX Pokemon such as Mewtwo EX, Yveltal EX, etc. With Burst Balloon it would set up quicker knockouts on the active while still pressuring the bench. It was impossible to consider playing anything less than four.

It wasn’t until 2 days before the event that Travis and I discovered just how effective Wobbuffet was in the deck. Archeops was a major issue for Trevenant and it did not help that the only deck that played Archeops was coincidentally the worst matchup for Trevenant. Wobbuffet not only prevented Archeops from locking your evolutions out of play but also functioned as a surprisingly effective attacker, dealing massive damage after a couple of Silent Fear attacks from Trevenant BREAK. Suddenly we had a new game plan. Set up as many Trevenant BREAK as possible and spread until they knock out all of your Trevenant. After this, you are free to clean up the rest of the field with Wobbuffet. You also open up a strong play with N where you eliminate their hand full of trainers when switching from Trevenant to Wobbuffet. Alternativly you could set up your opponent into burning their hand down to 3 or less and hit them hard with Delinquent. Burst Balloon is the icing on the cake, making Wobbuffet absolutely lethal against pretty much everything. It was an unintended, yet rather effective counter to Groudon and other mega decks as well.

Due to the inclusion of Wobbuffet, the energy line started to become a huge issue. Initially we played 7-8 Psychic and 1 Double Colorless but with only a couple of float stone, retreating was suddenly a problem and figuring out the proper energy count became a challenge in itself. The team concluded that 5 Psychic 3 Mystery was the best count. It was risky to drop your basic energy count because there were always games where you would open with the wrong Pokemon and be forced to retreat. If you did not have a basic energy to attach to the active to retreat than you could potentially lose the game on the spot.

The night before the event Travis, Jay and I were still trying to get last minute touches on the list. We had an Absol, but felt that we needed another attacker against Yveltal. I suggested Mewtwo EX and the change was immediate. Mewtwo is a ridiculous attacker in the deck because it provides an answer to energy stackers that could deal massive damage for just one attachment, and you can Psydrive for two energy which would prevent smarter players from Shaymin-looping you. We also predicted that players would ignore Psydrive and miscalculate damage, and this prediction stayed true throughout the entirety of the event. Mewtwo EX initially was Dedenne before Absol, however Dedenne did not have the sustainability that we desired and Dedenne was a dead card against Darkrai if they were ever able to power it up, making the tech inconsistent. Mewtwo was the much better answer. It was a brilliant clean up card after a couple of Silent Fears as well as a reliable back up plan when things went wrong. The last inclusion was Delinquent, a card that I was initially on the fence about but would never play without after this weekend. That brilliant idea was suggested by Travis and we all stole a ton of games because of it. It’s a way to crush players who played their hand down to low numbers after the swap from Trevenant to Wobbuffet. Particularly good against item heavy decks but strong in general. With a heavy level ball count, it would be easy to find through Jirachi and was a strong way to win games that you normally would not win.

Now that you understand how much testing went into the deck, I would like to provide the list to the masses.

Matchups:

Matchups are fairly polarizing with this deck.

The only thing that you really need to know how to beat is Yveltal because it requires a very specific, calculated approach unlike any other deck that you would face. Between 2 Wobbuffet and a Mewtwo, you have enough of a chance to out trade the deck assuming that you start poorly or they go first and explode. If Yveltal goes first assuming that they set up their board with multiple dark patch and a Maxie’s, you have to dig out Trevenant with Burst Balloon and begin to set up your alternative attackers while pitching prizes. You have to keep sacrificing Trevenant until N can hit them hard enough to make an impact. If you ever break the lock without disrupting their hand you should expect to get run over by multiple Dark Patch...the game will quickly go south. Mewtwo can deal massive damage to Yveltal with either X-Ball or Psydrive, with both attacks coming very quickly with Dimensional Valley in play. Lysandre becomes powerful when you can establish the lock on one of your opponent’s support EX that do not have a Float Stone attached. It is very easy to win if they ever bench Keldeo/Hoopa without Float Stone. You simply Lysandre and Spread with Trevenant BREAK until Wobbuffet is able to knock out your opponent’s threats. Delinquent becomes very live against this deck. They often go down to 3 or less and you can easily take advantage of this. Your general win condition vs Yveltal is four Silent Fear attacks followed by Wobbuffet and Mewtwo. Anything less than three Silent Fear and you're most likely going to lose that game.

If you go first and turn one lock, you should win the game with ease. Yveltal only becomes problematic when the opponent is able to explode turn one. Any other matchup should be simple and straightforward. If you lock them turn one, they will lose. If they have to evolve, they will lose. If you open dead, you lose. I preferred to play a deck like this because it not only saves a lot of time while playing but gives you outs against any deck in the format. There is no real autoloss against a turn one Trevenant. I knew that Yveltal would see the most play, but at the same time I also was very confident in Trevenant’s matchup with Yveltal, maybe more so than I should have been. At regionals I played against Yveltal four times...I know it’s appalling but I was still able to beat it twice and almost a third time had I not discarded three Trevenant BREAK turn one. The games that I lost I typically opened dead or was overwhelmed by early Yveltal. The games I won I was able to disrupt my opponent and spread throughout their board. I also won a set because I set up turn one Trevenant both games and my opponent had a hand full of items. It was effortless.

The deck can be fairly difficult to pilot. On the first turn of the game you have to recognize if you’re in a position to reach for the turn one Wally or when the turn one Trevenant is most likely out of reach. An initial search must yield counts of every component since they all are crucial to calculating your outs to a turn one Trevenant. If you go second it’s quite easy to get, going first is a bit more difficult since you do not have access to Ascension and are solely reliant on Wally. Going second you can Ascension for no energy with Dimensional Valley in play, which is quite a big deal. Wobbuffet can limit you and prevent your own turn one Trevenant so you must also keep this in mind. Mystery energy often has to be stuck on Wobbuffet and you have to be careful when benching, as your bench can get quite full at times. It’s also difficult to decide what pokemon to start going first, as you may limit your opponent even more by starting and keeping Wobbuffet active instead of Phantump/Trevenant. Your energy count is crippled so every attachment is dire. I often sit on hands that have copious amounts of energy just to ensure that I never drought. I personally missed the DCE that we had in lists prior throughout the event but the deck was entirely functional without it. We did not max Mystery because we wanted Super Rod to be more reliable.

Many things went into consideration, including Red Card, more copies of Delinquent, Rock Guard, heavy energy removal, changing the counts to play more N, less Sycamore, Teammates, different energy counts and the like. I think that we tested over twenty different variations of the deck. I do not believe that this is the strongest list. I think that things could still be refined. After a month this was the list that we were able to come up with. Had we had a bit more time, I think we could have solved some more issues that Jay and I ran into during the event. Hindsight vision is always perfect I suppose.

In regards to my tournament, I went in with no expectations and had a somewhat bittersweet experience. I survived seven rounds, but quickly left the event after my last round finishing 3/3/1. I played against four Yveltal decks, one Vileplume deck, a Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat and a Landorus/Garbodor deck. One could equate majority of these to awful matchups for specific reasons. Yveltal is surely the worst matchup due to weakness but I was able to beat it two out of four times, losing to incredible turn 1 setups. Vileplume is a bad matchup no matter which way you cut it. It is entirely functional under lock and does not care if Trevenant is active or not. Landorus is a high pressure Pokemon that can damage your setup vastly if they get even the slightest edge. I drew poorly over the weekend in general and was not able to capitalize on the matchups that Aaron and Travis were able to. Both of them hit decks like Mega Rayquaza, Eels/Raikou and the things that we had expected to play against. ravis actually played against quite a few Yveltal between both days, but finished 2/1/3 against them. Regardless of any bad beats, I was quite pleased to hear that the same 60 cards won the event. The craziest part is that Aaron played against no Yveltal decks in swiss and went undefeated!

Although it wasn’t me physically who won the event, I still consider it a victory for the team. It shows that we can craft lists that are capable. That to me is a victory within itself. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and considering what I have to say. I hope to perform during states, and will be working hard to accomplish this. Thank you.

 

Kevin

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