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Igor Costa

One last look at the format before Trump Card's goodybye

Lysandre's Trump Card is living its final days in the competitive scene. However, those days include most National Championships. This article focuses on some of decks that survive in this Seismitoad dominated format

06/12/2015 by Igor Costa

In the past few years I’ve been doing some sort of compilation of my thoughts about the current metagame just before the Portuguese Nationals. I usually only share this analysis with the Portuguese community, as it is some advice to those who are less prepared for a big tournament. This year, however, I decided to try something different...


While there are a lot of Portuguese players that managed to get their invitations for this year’s Worlds, they will not reach the top 22 of European players. Since the implementation of this new travel award system removed the free trip for the national champion, most of them will not afford to travel to Boston.

The Write Your Way to Worlds competition offers a chance to cover that cost for those who missed the ridiculous high bar to get to Europe’s top 22. So, why not participate? Maybe I can help more Portuguese players to get to Worlds.


If I happen to win the competition, I will use the prize money to help some of the best Portuguese players cover the costs of their flight so they can get to Worlds. If I don’t, I still get to share some of my thoughts and advice with the Pokémon community.
Let’s get started.

 


One thing I like to mention in these articles is the over hype behind some counters to popular decks. Last year I talked about Yveltal/Garbodor, the most feared deck at the time. Being the, supposedly, the best deck in format, it was common for players to try to fit heavy lines of Raichu to counter Yveltal EX. However, that wasn’t an effective solution to stop Yveltal EX – it required set up and was easily KO’d back. In fact, in that year’s Nationals I faced two decks that carried Raichu on the swiss rounds and VirGen deck with a 2-2 Raichu line on the top 4 while piloting my Yveltal/Garbodor deck, and that tech did not make the matchup any easier for my opponents.


In the current format, however, there is much more incentive to have an effective counter for the more dominant decks in the present metagame. Luckily, there are a lot more options available that work better now than Raichu did last year.
After the last Regionals’ results, it was made clear that Seismitoad is the deck to beat – so much that it even lead to the banning of Lysandre’s Trump Card. Like Raichu, numerous techs sprung into player’s mind that would, in theory, deal with the Seismitad matchup. But, like Raichu, those techs, while perfect in theory, are quite ineffective. M Rayquaza (Colorless) decks are the prime example: Virizion and some grass attackers, like Leafeon, do almost nothing to improve the matchup in favor of Rayquaza. The only way to get Rayquaza to win against Seismitoad is to make a build focused solely on beating it. Of course, such approach comes with a heavy price as the other matchups are severely affected.


Let’s take a look at some decks that can actually beat Seismitoad.

 

Virgen

Although not guaranteed, Virgen is one of the archtypes with the best matchup against Seismitoad decks. A single Emerald Slash puts the Toad player in a huge disadvantage – after the first one, the Virizion player can just streamline more Emerald Slash attacks keeping too much energy on the board for the opponent to deal with.


Of course, Seismitoad decks pack an array of tools to keep the Virizion player from reaching the supposedly low energy requirement for the first Emerald Slash. Between Cruching Hammers, Team Flare Grunts and Headringers, the seemingly easy task of attaching two energy can be almost impossible. For that reason, I believe a Mew EX based version is more reliable.

 

 

Mew Ex can use Emerald Slash with only one energy (via Dimension Valley) solving the problem I mentioned above. The list also includes Seismitoad EX to deal with faster decks like Rayquaza (Colorless) as slowing them down to your pace is the only way to stop those decks from overpowering you. After gaining a few turns to set-up multiple attackers, you can take the game by dragging out Shaymin EX using Genesect’s Red Signal.

There is no point in telling the multiple situational uses of Seismitoad EX as tech. In this deck, however, it is a crucial asset to deal with two abysmal mathups when paired with Lysandre’s Trump Card: Night Match and Flareon.

While Flareon is still tough to beat, it is the less popular of the two. When used a Trump Card + Quacking Punch successfully against Night March, the tables are turned making an impossible matchup in very winnable one.

There are a couple advantages in running Double Colorless Energy. The obvious one it to be able to power up Seismitoad EX with just one energy card (although Mew will be filling that role most of the time). It can be also used to bypass the extra energy cost added by Head Ring or to retreat Deoxys EX if the opponent tries to stall using Lysandre.

Besides the matchups that were mentioned, Virgen beats Primal Groudon and other lock decks (like Trevenant/Shaymin) for being a consistent, proactive deck with many out for numerous situations. It surprised me but Virgen is a really good choice for this format.

 

Metal

 

Another deck that, although it has not an auto-win against Seismitoad decks (then again, nothing has), it has a lot of tool that help it defeat that archtype.

First of all, there are only two ways Seismitoad can damage Aegislash: Hypnotoxic Laser and Silent Lab. Both of them are countered by just playing Steel Shelter. Couple with the “free retreat” provided by Keldeo’s Rush In and the energy recuperation via Bronzong, Metal can create a board state that Seismitoad players can deal with. Of course, this is easier said than done, setting up under item lock is not an easy task. Let’s take a look at my version of the Metal deck.

 

 

Cobalion can be used for taking out Pokémons with Safeguard and to slow down Seismitoad discard their Double Colorless Energy. As most Toad decks run zero or just a few basic energy cards, losing one applies enough pressure on their resources that you’ll be able to get some time to set up Bronzong.

The same is true for Dialga as the first attack, Chrono Wind, forces the Toad player to find a Super Scoop Up or AZ to continue attacking.

Aegislash is also great versus Flareon. Without the option to attack with Double Colorless Energy, they have to take two turns to be able to attack. In that time you can find a Lysandre and make them have to set up another attacker. Even if they managed to get a Flareon set up and knock out a Aegislash with Vengeance, withtwo Bronzongs it’s easy to get another one out and revenge KO the Flareon.

Against both Flareon and Night March a quick Quacking punch will slow them down enough for you to have a nice shot at winning the game. Seismitoad alongside with Aegislash can help in the Rayquaza matchup with the same strategy.

The Virgen matchup is 50-50 since a fast set-up means Dialga will one hit knock out every attack in their deck from the second turn on – assuming you can get two Bronzong up and a Muscle Band on Dialga. If Virgen is popular, a single Spiritomb can be added and the matchup will be very favorable.

Primal Groudon has a retreat cost of four meaning that Chrono Wind forces them to find a Switch or Escape Rope. Many list don’t run a high count of either of those, if they can’t get one, you just gained a turn to knock out Groudon.

Overall, this deck has many good matchups. The only one that it has trouble with is Manectric and, quite frankly, there is not much you can do against it

 

Manectric

 

Speaking of which, this is a deck that is also well poisoned in the pre-LTC ban metagame. Initially, I thought Manectric had a better matchup against Seismitoad but with more testing I found out that Toad is highly in favor.

Like Virgen, with a Turbo Bolt chain it’s easy to overcome the Toad’s energy discard. However, unlike the Virizion, M Manectric relies on the discard pile that is vulnerable to a Lysandre’s Trump Card. Manectric also lacks an efficient way to avoid Hypnotoxic Laser – while Keldeo is the best choice, it needs to be search for and still requires a float stone or two energy to retreat. Since Toad can just keep healing off the damage using Super Scoop Up, Cassius or AZ, the Manectric player will eventually get no energy in play and slowly loose board presence.

The best solution is to use your own Seismitoad EX to stop them for a few turns – more than enough time to get Keldeo, M Manetric and enough energy in play. After set up, the matchup is much easier for the Manectric player. Here’s the list.

 

 

With Rough Seas in play, you can keep the lock as long as you want to. With no Head Ringers or Crushing Hammers coming your way, you can set up one or two Manectric and then start recycling energy.
The deck loses to Groudon, sure, but the inclusion of Sesimitoad makes the games against Flareon, Night March and Land Bats much easier.

One could argue that Leafeon would be a good tech choice. However, if fails to take out Groudon in one hit and clogs the decks making it less consistent.

This wouldn’t be a problem (just one bad matchup, not a big deal, right?) but, unfortunately for Manectric players, Groudon is a deck that will be heavily played in these last pre-LTC ban Nationals.

 

Groudon

Perhaps the card that gained the most with the release of Mega Turbo. Scorched Earth provides both fuel for Turbos and card draw while giving Primal Groudon a stadium to destroy with its attack. It is a simple, powerful, consistent deck.

The primary reason it is heavily played is its Ancient Trait – Omega Barrier – that makes it completely invulnerable to anything lock decks can do (lasers, hammers, Lysanre, etc). The only thing that can bypass that embedded effect is Head Ringer. While that tool can be annoying, Groudon can sit on the bench loading energy and then come out to take all six prizes easily.

 

 

Against Toad victory is almost certain. You’re dealing 200 damage or more while they need at least five hits to take a Groudon down. They could lysandre Groudon EX before it becomes primal and start damaging it with Hypnotoxic Laser while they can. However, with Wobbuffet in the active spot they cannot use Shaymin, Jirachi or Absol so getting all those resources without draw power is pretty unrealistic.

Wobbuffet is what compensates the slow start of this deck. By bringing every other deck down to your pace, they will often not be able to set up an effective answer to Primal Groudon. Of course, when Groudon starts attacking this is no longer applicable. However, in that state the only relevant ability is Crawdaunt’s. Although it can be problematic for Groudon as it is a way that Toad players can discard energies even with the Omega Barrier protection. However, it is not the most popular version of Seismitoad around.

The deck has problems winning against Night March and Virgen. The latter being almost impossible to win. Focus Sash can help in those matchup but those will still be very tough.

 

Flareon

 

Yes, Flareon can win against Toad.

 

 

Every time I played Flareon I couldn’t beat Seismitoad. However, Trainer’s Mail gave the deck some extra speed and now I think it is quite strong.

Audinos can cure poison (or sleep) and if you manage to get a Leafeon with Silver Bangle and two Deoxys it can actually KO Seismitoad in one shot. Glaceon gives free retreat to Deoxys so it isn’t a liability to keep them on the bench. Still, the matchup is about 55-45 favoring Flareon. The deck is still item-based.

Facing Groudon and Virgen is where this deck excels at. The rest of the matchups are pretty even…

This deck uses DCE so you can also use Seismitoad (surprise, surprise) as a tech against Night March. Empoleon is your man if you’re playing against Landbats. The rest of the matchups are based around getting Flareon to hit as hard as possible.

It can be a bit hard to deafeat Manectric but is winnable since you can get to a point where Vengeance KO’s M Manectric pretty quickly.

 

Yveltal

 

Yveltal doesn’t win against Seismitoad by using its non-ex version to load energies. You need to use your own Toad just like Manectric does.  By avoiding Seismitoad’s Lasers and Hammers, you can build a giant Yveltal and then ride it to victory. Pokémon Center Lady and Xerosic are helpful assets in this matchup just like Keldeo and Darkrai.

 

 

The deck has some weaknesses, mainly Manectric. Although there is not much you can do in that matchup in particular, you can try to win the stadium war or even use Darkrai as an attacker.

Yveltal (non-ex) and Seismitoad even out the Night March matchup. As always, the Trump Card followed by Quacking Punch is the goal.

Groudon is also manageable. Since they need four energy, they are easy targets for Yveltal’s Evil Ball. While they are trying to set up their big attacker, you can use Seismitoad to slow they further down. If you attack with a Toad carrying a Muscle Band and use Laser on a Wobbufett, they get KO’ed coming to your turn.

 

Shaymin/Trevenant

 

I didn’t play with this deck as much as the others. In my opinion, it loses to Yveltal, Manectric and Virgen decks, however, it has a better matchup against Groudon than Seismitoad does. Also, since the lock is made with Trevenant’s Ability and not with an attack the opponent can’t try to break the lock using a Xerosic or Team Flare Grunt. Like Seismitoad, it wins against Night March, Flareon and less popular decks like Medicham and Kyogre.

 

 

Only two Shaymin may seem odd, but the reasoning behind is to not leave any Pokémon on the bench that is not a Trevenant for the opponent to use Lysandre and break the lock. Since the deck’s strategy is to cycle through Shaymins, its ability can be used multiple time throughout the game anyway. AZ is in the deck to help clean up the bench as well.

The most problematic decks for this build are Virgen and Manectric, therefore, there is no point in running Enhanced Hammer as the list space is very precious. If removing special energy becomes a necessity, Xerosic and VS. Seeker can take care of it.

There are some decks that I haven’t covered like Fairy, LandBats and Raichu variants. While they are strong decks, they do not handle the Seismitoad matchup well. It is my opinion that Seismitoad decks are the play for the pre-LTC ban Nationals.

Most decks don’t have a solid strategy against Seismitoad and it is one of the most consistent decks in the format. It has no auto losses, none. This Toad traumatize too many players.

So, expect the hate or expect the same old Toad decks.

My advice is that you dedicate a lot of time in testing. Too many things work in theory but fail in practice.

Good luck at Nationals!

 

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