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Carter Keith

Deciding What Deck To Use

Have you ever been in a spot where you don't know what deck to use? I'll attempt to help you out.

06/01/2015 by Carter Keith

We've all been there. Up late the night before a tournament pondering over what deck you should play. I'll try to help you on this decision.

The number one rule

This rule is simple: NEVER PLAY A DECK YOU AREN'T COMFORTABLE WITH. This is probably the deciding factor on what deck to play. For example, if you are used to simple decks, you shouldn't play a deck like Aromatisse that is complicated. Also, don't even try to make an original decklist for a deck you don't understand, or you could end up playing Terrakion in Flareon. I just want to emphasize on that you should only play a deck if you're comfortable with it. But, that dosen't mean you should always play the same deck. You become way to predictable and if you go to a large amount of tournaments and people recognize you, they might know what deck you're playing before you even start shuffling. While this gets you used to a deck, you should try to change your deck every so often. This doesn't mean to use a completely different deck, you can use a deck that is simular. For example, it you are used to playing item lock decks from decks like Vileplume, Gothitelle, or especially Dragonite, then Seismitoad is right up your alley.

What is the most popular deck?

You can look to see what the most popular deck is and try to counter it. During States this year, Seismitoad was the most popular deck, so people started playing Virizon/Genesect. But, then people saw the success of Virizion/Genesect, so people started playing Flareon because Virizion/Gensect is weak to fire. But, Flareon has a horrible matchup with Seismitoad. Then, to try to counter Seismitoad again, people started playing Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre to counter Seismitoad, but they have a bad matchup with Virizion/Genesect so people again went to Flareon, but then Seismitoad came back up. See what these people are thinking when they build their deck? They can counter one thing, but not everything. But, an example of trying to counter everything is the Aromattisse Toolbox deck. This deck plays Manectric to counter Yveltal and M Rayquaza, Charizard to counter Virizion/Genesect, Seismitoad to counter Flareon, and sometimes Genesect to counter Seismitoad. 

Rouge decks

Playing a rouge deck is almost always fun! You don't have to play an archetype to play at a tournament, which is something some players seem to forget.  You could play a rouge deck when you don't have the cards to play a popular deck. But, rouge decks sometimes have to take a lot of skill to play because there is no set way to play it. An example of this is during this cities season, I didn't know what deck to play. I was going to play Yveltal/M Manectric, but my brother wanted to play Yveltal, so I was stuck. I looked at the metagame. I expected the three most popular decks to be Yveltal, Virzion/Gensect, and Donphan. So, I decided to play M Manectric/Reshiram LGT. 

If you are wondering what it is, I'll tell you. So, I expected Yveltal, so I went with M Manectric which one shot's Yveltal. Also, Reshiram dominates my Virizion/Gensect matchup and against Donphan, can soak up damage for an Outrage KO or a Muscle Band  for a Blue Flare KO. There were five rounds and played against four Yveltal, and I went 3-2. So the games I lost were to a Seismitoad/Dragalge/Dusknoir deck which he just Lysandre'd up Charizard and kept putting me to sleep with HypnoToxic Laser and moving the damage to Manectrics.

Then, I lost to an Yveltal. I got a lone Charizard start and she got to go second and got Seismitoad, Double Colorless, LaserBank, and a Muscle Band, and I didn't draw a basic. I bubbled.

Anyway, this is an interesting rouge deck that countered a lot of popular decks. A deck similar to this that attemps to counter everything is Yanmega/Raichu/Garbodor

Yanmega counters Seismitoad and Raichu counters Yveltal and M Rayquaza. And if they're playing Altaria, Garbodor shuts it off. Also, it shuts down Shaymin which is very important because this deck requires evolving. 

Rouge decks don't have to counter the metagame. They could be something that you think is fun to play! Remember, most of us play Pokemon for fun. 


Follow along and play a popular deck.

Yes, right after rouge decks is playing archetypes. I have a lot to say about this. This first time I top cut was with a M Heracross deck in cities then lost in top four. I didn't top cut at all until my third states. I was tired of playing rouge decks and losing, so I played to most popular deck, Seismitoad/Slurpuff. I have to say, I enjoyed playing it! I had a good list and I might've got top 4, top 2, or even win, if I didn't play three Virizion/Genesects. I played one in round 2, another in round 5, and the same one from round 5 in top 8. Also, my brother won 2 cities, top cut at a cities, and made top 4 in states to get his worlds invite with Yveltal and Pyroar when it was popular (he's a junior.) Enough said, it may be good to play an archetype. If it's had good results in the past, it's proven itself and is a good deck to play. 

Net decking is also a decent strategy. If a decklist has won a major event, then that means it's good and if you can play that list, then why not. What I like to do is to look at a list that has done well, and modify it to my liking. I know a lot of people do this but I really recommend this.

Deciding what style you are.

Generally, there are four styles: power, speed, lock, or long set-up.

Power: Power decks are decks like Virizion/Genesect and Yveltal. Power decks try to do knock out your opponent's Pokemon easily and take prizes almost every turn. These decks generally are fast and consistent and obviosly powerful, but if they can't get knock outs almost every turn, then they usually don't do well. 

Lock: Lock decks are decks like Seismitoad and Exeggutor. Lock decks try to limit your opponent in as many ways as possible and slowly take prizes. These decks are fast to set up locks and usually don't require a lot of Energy in the deck, but don't do a lot of damage and usually lose if your opponent breaks the lock.

Speed: Speed decks are decks like M Rayquaza. Speed decks try to get set up as fast as possible. M Rayquaza uses cards like Trainer's Mail, Acro Bike, and Shaymin to draw cards and cards like Rayquaza Spirit Link, Double Colorless, and Mega Turbo to attack fast. Speed decks are fast and sometimes powerful, but if they don't get set up on the first turn, then they usually lose.

Long Set-Up: Long Set-Up decks are decks like M Manectric/Black Kyurem and Emboar/Camerupt. These decks take two or three turns to get set up, but when they do they are powerful. These decks are powerful and hard to beat once they are set up, but are slow and usually lose to lock decks.


So I hope this helps you on what decks to use at Nationals, Worlds, and any other event. These are some helpful tips that might be obvious, but some players don't know them. If this did help then like this article so I know I should right more like this! Until next time, this has been Carter.

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