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Marc Lutz

What to expect at Nationals

Marc Lutz talks about the deck he thinks will see play at the upcoming Nationals season including Fates Collide!

05/23/2016 by Marc Lutz

Greetings, fellow 60cards readers, my name is Marc Lutz and I'm back with another article! This time we'll be covering the most important decks for the upcoming National season with the new set Fates Collide. This set gave us a few new tools which are pretty good in certain decks and of course our favorite green-haired Pokémon Trainer N also makes a comeback. We also got a new Alakazam in Fates Collide and it's been quite some time since we got one of those guys printed in the TCG so I'm pretty excited about that. On top of that there's some more Fighting support which can really bring some interesting decks to the tables because we already have great support for those decks from Furious Fists. It's also the first time Zygarde has made an appearance in the TCG and maybe it will see some play at Nationals wiyh all the new support?


In the following paragraphs I will explain to you why I think those decks are good picks for Nationals and also show you how they work briefly. Keep in mind that the decklists I will provide you are open for some tech options and aren't geared towards a certain metagame because it will be different depending on which area you live in and how late your Nationals are as decks will be much more refined going later into a format. So if you're still looking for something to play at your Nationals you should definitely take a look at what I have to say about this. Without further ado let's get right into the article!

Night March

The first deck we'll be taking a look at is Night March. Night March has been one of the most dominating decks in standard recently. After it got Puzzle of Time from BREAKpoint it gets another really good Tool to use from Fates Collide in Mew. Similar to the old Mew-EX this Mew has the ability to copy attacks. It can only use the attacks from your Benched basic Pokémon but it is a non-EX which makes this in one way much better than Mew-EX because the difference in HP doesn't make much of a difference in most cases.

What Mew does in this deck is copy Joltik's Night March attack with Dimension Valley for just a Basic Energy. That way you don't always need Double Colorless Energy to attack and you're less vulnerable to special Energy removal like Enhanced Hammer and Jirachi. Also you get to attack against Giratina-EX's Chaos Wheel attack in some cases if you already managed to get the Dimension Valley in play. Something that's also pretty cool with this Mew is that the Lightning Energy you would put in that deck allow you to attack with Joltik's Gnaw attack which can OHKO other Joltik with Muscle Band.

Other than that Night March is still the same deck. You try to burn through your deck with Trainer Mail, Battle Compressor, Shaymin-EX and such to get a big hit with Night March as fast as possible. I feel like there's been much less Seismitoad-EX decks around lately because of Greninja which is a huge advantage for Night March because Trainer lock is more or less the only way to fight this deck. Apart from Seismitoad-EX and maybe Greninja Night March only has good match ups across the field because it easily beats-EX heavy decks like Mega Mewtwo, Mega Rayquaza and Manectric-EX variants. The only other Trainer lock deck around is Trevenant, but in most cases you should be able to outpace them and there's also Hex Maniac to get out of the Trainer lock. Also the matchup against Greninja should be somewhat better now because you have the Mew and basic Energy engine which makes their Jirachi less effective.

The introduction of N however is a curse and a blessing at the same time for this deck. There will be games in which you're behind because you had a bad opening hand or you're simply facing an unfavorable matchup and then you N them down to 1 or 2 and make a huge comeback as you're able to pick up Prizes each turn with Night March. On the other hand there will be games where you're ahead and then they N you down to a smaller hand size and knock out your Night Marcher or Mew and suddenly you're in a dire spot if you don't draw your outs. One way to fight this is by saving some Shaymin-EX until the late game and of course by discarding all useless cards with Battle Compressor. Due to the deck's nature Night March should be one of the decks that's the least vulnerable to N as you go through your deck much faster.

Overall I think Night March is the deck to beat at Nationals even with Fates Collide added to the mix. It's already been super successful at recent Nationals winning 2 out of 4 of them. I know those didn't include Fates Collide, but I also don't think that the new set will shake up the meta too much to the point that Night March will no longer be the best deck. Watch out for those little guys!


Next up we have the deck featuring Fates Collide's mascot Alakazam-EX. Alakazam-EX brings an interesting new mechanic to the game where the basic Pokémon has an ability that triggers when you evolve it. It this case it is a combination of Golbat and Crobat from Phantom Forces. You put 2 damage on your opponent's Active Pokémon and an extra 3 damage on one of their Benched ones. That's already pretty good on its own, but what makes this really impressive is the attack Mega Alakazam-EX comes with. For a Psychic and a Colorless Energy it deals 10 damage plus an additional 30 damage for each damage counter on your opponent's Active Pokémon. So after the first Kinesis ability you're already dealing 70 damage and 130 after the second one.


The goal of this deck is to set up OHKOs across your opponent's board using multiple Kinesis Abilities. We play two Hoopa-EX to get out as many Alakazam-EX as possible on turn 1 so that you can start mega evolving them on turn 2. Hoopa-EX is really good in this deck because it can search pretty much everything including the Mega Alakazam-EX and Shaymin-EX to get to your key cards faster.

Devolution Spray has also been reprinted in this set and it's obviously an auto-include in this Alakazam-EX. Being able to replay Mega Alakazam-EX multiple times in one turn can be game changing. You can setup knock outs more easily and also pick up Prizes just from its Ability if you can get out enough of those. You can also play this deck with a Crobat line as it synergizes very well with the overall theme of the deck which is spreading damage around with Abilities and then picking up Prizes with small effort. However I'm not sure how that will work since you would have to play Sky Field to gather enough room on your Bench. You already want like 3 Alakazam-EX in play, a Hoopa-EX which gets you to those and probably also a Shaymin-EX so you can't get that many Crobat in play unless you play Sky Field. The problem with Sky Field is that you also want Dimension Valley in this deck so you can attack for a single Energy and I don't think you can afford to run 2 Stadium cards in this deck. I'd much rather play a faster version of this deck that solely relies on Alakazam-EX as your win condition and then a heavy Item line to get to those.

In theory this deck can win against anything because of the potential OHKO on any Pokémon no matter how many HP it has. Even Night March should be possible. Of course they can easily OHKO your Alakazam-EX, but if you get a good draw you can just knock out their Night Marchers with an Ability and then maybe target down some Shaymin-EX to keep up with the Prize race. However the big problem I see here is Ability negation. A lot of decks play Hex Maniac and also Greninja's Shadow Stitching attack has the same effect on your board. When you're under Ability lock your turn is pretty much over. The regular Alakazam-EX can still do a decent amount of spread damage for a single Psychic Energy depending on your opponent's board state, but it's not that impactful. So you should try to mega evolve as many Alakazam-EX as possible before your opponent gets the chance to play Hex Maniac. Against Greninja decks it shouldn't be that much of a problem because they need to evolve their guys first.

I'm not exactly sure how good this deck will be, but there will probably be some guys at Nationals that play this deck because it's from the new set, it's an interesting new mechanic and it's also somewhat easy to play. Also since there's no longer a paid trip to worlds for first place at Nationals I do think some people will play more fun decks there and Alakazam-EX is definitely one of those, but it could catch you off guard.

Fighting Decks

Another deck archetype which will be revisited for sure are the Fighting decks. We already have a ton of great cards from Furious Fists which support this theme in Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium which both apply a good amount of damage to all of your attacks and of course Korrina which is one of the most consistent Supporter cards out there but unfortunately is only available to Fighting decks. Hawlucha is also a really good card and has seen play in pretty much all Fighting decks given its free Retreat and heavy damage output for a single Energy gives the deck a lot of flexibility in the early game. Given that core already I'm sure there are a lot of possibilities for new and exciting Fighting decks to emerge. I'm not putting up a decklist for a specific deck, but rather go through all of the new Fighting cards and possible decks that can be built around them.

First we have Regirock-EX, the most vanilla one of them. It's fairly straightforward and most likely belongs in any aggressive Fighting deck. Similar to the Team Plasma Deoxys-EX this guy adds an additional 10 damage to all of your Fighting Pokémon’s attacks. The fact that it's an-EX makes you able to search multiple copies of them with Hoopa-EX and setup a huge damage output on turn 1 in combination with Strong Energy and Fighting Stadium as well. Its attack is rather unimpressive as it won't be used in most cases. Regirock-EX however will see play in a ton of Fighting decks, I'm pretty sure.

Next up we have a super interesting card in Carbink BREAK from this set. It's a BREAK evolution which evolves from a Basic Pokémon so it's faster than any other BREAK already and has a great attack for the early game. Diamond Gift only does 20 damage, but for a single Fighting Energy you get to attach 2 Energy cards from your discard pile to one of your Benched Fighting Pokémon. That includes Double Colorless Energy and Strong Energy. What comes to my mind is that you can build a fast deck around this card using Battle Compressor to burn through your deck faster and get those Energy into your discard pile while setting up VS Seekers and improving your draws in the upcoming turns in general. You can also use Wally to get this guy into play on turn 1 and use Diamond Gift immediately. All you need to complement this strategy is an actual attacker that makes use of those extra Energy. There aren't many Fighting types currently that could make good use of getting Double Colorless Energy back, but there's still Lucario-EX which deals a ton of damage if you get some Strong Energies attached to it, especially in combination with Regirock-EX. The problem with Lucario-EX however is that it is super fragile against Night March due to its Psychic weakness. But there's also Zygarde-EX in Fates Collide which we will come to later.

What's also worth noting is that the regular Carbink has an interesting Ability that prevents the basic Energy attached to your basic Pokémon from being discarded by any effect. This doesn't protect your Strong Energy still, but if you get some basic Energy out against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX you can get a huge advantage from that as it makes their Crushing Hammers and Team Flare Grunts useless in some cases.

The next combination of cards we have is Zygarde-EX and its personal Tool card Power Memory. Zygarde-EX is a really bulky Pokémon-EX. At 190 HP which is more than most Pokémon-EX have it should be able to take some hits as most decks aim towards the 180 mark. Also with a Fighting Fury Belt attached you get up to 230 HP which makes it much more difficult for Night March to get a knock out on your Zygarde-EX. So what's this guy doing? Zygarde-EX has 3 different attacks at 1, 2 and 3 Energy cost. The first one deals 20 damage plus an additional 20 damage if there's a Stadium card in play. It's not that great against the bigger stuff, but if you add in the damage from all the Fighting support cards it will be enough to pick up some Prizes on smaller guys like Froakie or Zorua in the early game. It's also enough to knock out Night Marchers which is really good as you only have to attach a single Energy to compete with them. Its second attack Cell Storm deals 60 damage and restores 30 HP on Zygarde-EX. At first glance it might not seem that relevant, but against decks with a lower damage output like Seismitoad-EX this can be really good. If they keep using Quaking Punch on you and you can't use your Item cards you can just go for Zygarde-EX and start using Cell Storm over and over while almost completely negating their damage output they will have to come up with something else and you might get out of the Trainer lock. Also the Carbink which protects your basic Energy from being discarded makes this strategy much more viable against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX decks. Its last attack Land's Wrath is super simple yet effective given the fact that your damage output is increased by a ton most of the time. For three Energy it deals 100 damage. If you add in Fighting Stadium, 2 Strong Energies and a Regirock-EX you're already at 170 damage which is enough to knock out a good amount of Pokémon-EX in the game.

However there's more to it, Zygarde-EX also has its very own Pokémon Tool. Similar to Genesect-EX's G-Booster this Power Memory card grants your Zygarde-EX access to another attack and it's also surprisingly similar to the one printed on G-Booster. For two Fighting Energy and a Colorless Energy the attack deals 200 damage and you have to discard 3 Energy afterwards. Given the fact that there's a Regirock-EX in play most of the time this damage output is literally enough to knock out anything. It will be relevant against decks that use mega evolutions like Mega Rayquaza-EX and Mega Mewtwo-EX. Keep in mind that you can't use Fighting Fury Belt and Power Memory at the same time so this card will most likely only see play as a 1-of in most Zygarde-EX decks I think as decks that revolve around mega evolutions aren't that popular. Also you can use the attack multiple times if your Zygarde-EX is still in play after you used the attack for the first time.

So the deck revolving around the new Fighting type support which I can see working petty well is Zygarde-EX/Carbink BREAK. With a similar gameplay to the old Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX deck this deck will aim towards getting out a Carbink BREAK as soon as possible using Wally and then using Diamond Gift to setup a Zygarde-EX. After that you're just going for knock outs every turn either with the 100 damage attack or Power Memory if you need a higher damage output. The fact that Zygarde-EX has possibly 4 attacks to use and that you can also tech in some other cards gives this deck a lot more flexibility. I wouldn't be surprised if this deck takes one of the top spots at Nationals.

Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX & Trevenant

New expansion, old trouble. Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX has been a top contender for quite some time now and I doubt that will change with the new expansion. The combination of Item lock and disruptive cards like Crushing Hammer and Team Flare Grunt makes a deck that is tough to beat in almost any metagame. The reintroduction of N is also really appreciated by this deck as it adds another Tool of disruption to the already disgusting roster of cards it already had. So after using a couple of Quaking Punches you can now switch to Giratina-EX's Chaos Wheel attack at some point in the game and use N to reduce your opponent's hand size.


So this deck generally revolves around a lesser damage output but more of a disruptive theme. Quaking Punch prevents your opponent from using any Item cards and Giratina-EX prevents your opponent from using special Energy, Stadium cards and Pokémon Tools which is more or less everything else. On top of the Energy removal cards I already mentioned this deck also play Head Ringer which gives-EX heavy decks even more of a trouble to even attack in the early game. After you slowed down their early game enough and you set up multiple attackers on your Bench it should be pretty much impossible for your opponent to get back in this game. Some players might also tend towards the straight Seismitoad-EX deck that doesn't play Giratina-EX but much more disruption and healing effects like Rough Seas to keep using the same Seismitoad-EX until your opponent either runs out of cards to play or simply decks out of you can drag out the game long enough.

The other Item lock deck we have in the format is Trevenant. Very similar to Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX the core of this deck is disruption and Item lock. It doesn't rely on flip cards such as Super Scoop Up and Crushing Hammer which makes it more reliable in some cases. It also has a higher damage output with Trevenant's Tree Slam and of course Trevenant BREAK's Silent Fear attack. Silent Fear is this decks main attack, if you have Dimension Valley in play this attack puts 3 damage counters on each of your opponent's Pokémon for just a single Psychic Energy. If you keep using this attack the damage output will accumulate very fast and you're going to draw a ton of Prizes at once which makes this deck less vulnerable to N.

Another advantage this deck has over Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX is that you can start the Item lock on turn 1 even if you're going first by using Wally to get out Trevenant immediately. It doesn't happen every game but with Shaymin-EX it will be somewhat consistent. If you're not hitting it on turn 1 you're guaranteed to get it the next turn because of Phantump's Ascension attack even if you have a suboptimal opening hand. The only downside this sort of Item lock has compared to the one of Quaking Punch is that it can be removed by Hex Maniac. Even though this lets your opponent use Items again they prevent themselves from using Shaymin-EX due to Hex Maniac in that case so they're not guaranteed to go off during the same turn.

The biggest thing these two decks have going for them is their good Night March matchup if you can lock them out of the game on turn 1 or 2. Both of these decks are rather weak against Greninja though because the damage output will be mitigated by Rough Seas and Greninja doesn't rely in Items that much. Nonetheless those decks will see a good amount of play at Nationals just because Item lock is so strong in the current format.


Greninja is probably the most successful deck at the moment. Lists have been refined over time and apart from Sceptile-EX it doesn't really have any bad matchups. Greninja decks revolve around Frogadier’s Water Duplicates attack. It allows you to get all of your Frogadier into play on turn 1 or 2 with Wally. Then you try to evolve all of them as fast as possible into Greninja. The biggest advantage this deck has compared to any other in the current metagame is Dive Ball. Being able to search your deck for any Pokémon you want in the early game without the cost of discarding anything is super strong. This deck also doesn't need Shaymin-EX which makes it much harder for any deck to keep up with the Prize race as they need to knock out 6 non-EX Pokémon. Once you get your Greninja in play you can start dealing damage with it. Against most decks you're going to use its Moonlight Slash attack which deals 60 damage plus an additional 20 damage if you return an Energy card attached to it to your hand. This is no drawback at all as it prevents your opponent from discarding that Energy with Crushing Hammer or Team Flare Grunt.

Once you get your Greninja BREAK into play you should also be able to get OHKOs on almost anything. With Muscle Band your damage output already increases to 100 and then you can add the Water Shurikens which easily deal an additional 90 damage at the cost of discarding some water Energy. Therefore we also have Fisherman in this deck to get back those Energy and keep using Water Shurikens to manipulate the damage on board. To good thing here is that you only need a single Energy to attack for the entire game in theory as it returns to your hand every time you use Moonlight Slash.

Greninja’s second attack Shadow Stitching only does 40 damage for one Energy but has a great effect. Similar to Hex Maniac it prevents all Abilities from being used until the end of your opponent's next turn. This attack is super important in the mirror match as you don't want your opponent to be able to use Giant Water Shuriken to knock out your Greninja. Most mirror matches are super slow and aim towards decking out each other because you just keep using Shadow Stitching and Rough Seas to negate the damage output while switching around between Greninja. Both players will accumulate a huge amount of cards in their hand at that point so you can tech in Durant from Flashfire as a mirror tech to discard a good portion of their hand. What Durant does it forces your opponent to discard cards from their hand until they only have 4 left for one Energy. It's rather unusable against any other deck out there but if you think you will play a lot of Greninja mirrors it's an option for sure.

Given its already huge success at regionals and Nationals before Fates Collide I'm certain this deck will take a big portion of the top spots at the upcoming Nationals even with another expansion added to the mix.


As I've already mentioned in my previous metagame article for the ECC I do think that this deck will be played until it's out of the format. The combination of effective non-EX attackers and fast deck engine makes this deck super good in any format. The general strategy of this deck is setting up your discard pile with Battle Compressor for Yveltal's Oblivion Wing attack and of course Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick which gets your Gallade into play. The sheer amount of options this deck provides every turn is just insane. Against Night March you can just keep using Yveltal as its damage output for a single Energy is already enough to knock out any Night Marcher or the Mew if they don't have Fighting Fury Belt attached, but then again you can also use Startling Megaphone to remove that. While attacking with Yveltal in the early game you start setting up additional attackers on your Bench.

One of them is Zoroark which not only provides free retreat to everything if you have a Float Stone attached but also prevents your opponent from going all out on their Bench. The fact that Zoroark can deal up to 180 damage if they have a full Bench really sets them back as they can't just drop their Shaymin-EX and stuff without being in danger from Zoroark. This is especially good against Mega Rayquaza-EX decks as they expand their Bench size with Sky Field. Zoroark also gives you the option to tech in a Zoroark BREAK which has the Ability to copy the defending Pokémon’s attacks for just a single darkness Energy. This is really good against expensive attacks like Chaos Wheel from Giratina-EX or even if you want to fight fire with fire and copy Quaking Punch from Seismitoad-EX. This deck also runs a copy of Yveltal-EX as a tech against decks like Mega Mewtwo-EX or anything that attaches a lot of Energy. If you get a darkness Energy attached to it with Oblivion Wing you can also just attach a Double Colorless Energy to it and use Y-Cyclone which is enough to knock out something like a Shaymin-EX if you have Muscle Band attached and you also get to move the Double Colorless Energy to your Bench to save it for next turn.

The last card this deck has in its main roster is Gallade from BREAKthrough. If you can get it into play on turn 1 or 2 with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick you're good to go. Its Premonition Ability adds a ton of consistency to your next draws as you get to rearrange the top 5 cards of your deck every turn. Its attack Sensitive Blade is also super strong. For a Double Colorless Energy it deals 130 damage if you have played a Supporter card this turn which is the case most of the time. It's great in combination with Lysandre as it not only provides the Supporter necessary for the additional damage output but also allows you to target down your opponent's Pokémon with this deck. With a Muscle Band attached you can deal up to 150 damage which is enough to Knock Out other Yveltal despite its Resistance and also Shaymin-EX. This is also your win condition against Manectric-EX decks as they otherwise would just run over your Yveltal due to their weakness to Lightning types.

I'm sure this deck will see play at Nationals because it's one of the most consistent decks out there and it doesn't have any bad matchups on paper except for maybe Sceptile-EX. The fact that this deck provides so many options every turn and also leaves some room for tech options depending on the metagame one might expect makes this deck a really viable choice.

Other Playable Decks

In this section I will briefly mention some decks that are options for sure but most likely won't be represented that much as they need a certain metagame to work.

Mega Sceptile

Mega Sceptile is mainly played because it's a hard counter to Greninja decks. Given its resistance, the mega evolutions ancient trait that prevents Giant Water Shuriken form being used on it and Greninja’s grass weakness makes this card the perfect counter to Greninja. It's nearly impossible for any Greninja deck to win against Sceptile-EX, however its other matchups aren't that impressive. It might have decent chances against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX as well. Its Night March matchup is really weak and in general you need to play against a lot of Greninja decks to maintain a good record with this deck.

Manectric-EX Variants

This includes multiple deck archetypes, there are decks that revolve around the Mega Manectric-EX and some tech cards like Raikou or Jolteon-EX and there's also the Manectric-EX/Crobat deck which doesn't play the mega evolution. The Mega Manectric variant is more vulnerable to Night March even if they play Jolteon-EX because they play so many Pokémon-EX and it should be an easy game for Night March to pick up 6 Prizes by knocking out 3 of those. This deck is really good against most Seismitoad-EX decks though as it doesn't rely on Items that much and you can negate most of their damage output with Rough Seas. The Manectric-EX/Crobat deck however is much better against Night March because of the Crobat engine and also Jirachi which is played in some of those decks. The problem with this deck is that it's a much weaker deck overall in the current metagame and Greninja’s Shadow Stitching attack and the fact that they don't necessarily have a Tool attached really limits this deck's damage output against them. 

Mega Mewtwo-EX

Mega Mewtwo-EX of course is a great deck depending on how good you are in dodging the Night March matchup. This deck has really good matchups across the board, you can fight Greninja very well, most Seismitoad-EX decks shouldn't be a problem and you have some flexibility against decks with a medium damage output because of your Damage Swap attack in combination with Shrine of Memories. The big problem this deck has is its unwinnable Night March matchup. Mewtwo is weak to Psychic types and will easily get knocked out by Pumpkaboo. Even if they have a bad start and fall behind in the early game it's still easy for them to get back into the game and win it because they can just knock out 3 Mewtwo or Hoopa-EX.

Mega Rayquaza-EX/Jolteon-EX

This is a deck that has seen more play recently because it's also a counter to Greninja decks and has some great matchups across the board as well. However much like the Mega Mewtwo-EX deck this one struggles the same against Night March. Even with the Jolteon-EX tech you will probably not have much of a chance against those decks because they're generally much faster than you. Some people even tried teching in a Seismitoad-EX to fight against Night March and it might work in some games but overall you're heavily unfavored in this matchup.


So that's it for the metagame analysis from my side. In my opinion the best deck to play at Nationals is either Greninja or Night March. Both decks have the best results from the past and are heavily favored to win most Nationals. If I had to pick a deck that emerged from the new set Fates Collide it would probably be Zygarde-EX/Carbink BREAK as it reminds me so much of the old Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX deck, but I doubt the deck will be refined enough for Nationals.

As always I hope you liked the article and more importantly found a deck for yourself to play at Nationals. If you still have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments and I will gladly answer them. I will see you again next time and good luck at Nationals!

- Marc Lutz

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