I'm Not a Giant Fan
Shiftry has received the ban hammer...
09/04/2015 by Shiv Luthra
Well, the day we were all waiting for is here, Shiftry Next Destinies is banned from competitive play in expanded. The link for the full article on Pokemon.com is right here.
For those of you who haven't caught the Shiftry hype train, Shiftry is a Stage 2 Pokemon with the ability Giant Fan, when you evolve into Shiftry flip a coin if heads take one of your opponent's Pokemon and all cards attached to it and shuffle them into your opponent's deck. On its own this is pretty bad, but now that Forest of Giant Plants has been released, Shiftry can come into play turn 1, and thanks to the abuse from Devolution Spray, Shaymin, Trainer Mail, Bicycle, Roller Skates, Acro Bike, and Unown, the deck can remove all of your Pokemon in play before you even have a turn.
The backlash for Shiftry was pretty big, the entire premise of winning a game before your opponent could draw a card with zero input from them is pretty negative to the game and you can bet players will get angry over it. It reminded me a lot of Sabledonk from a while back but even that was in a format where you could attack going first and instead of banning the card in question, they changed the rules of the entire game so you couldn't play a supporter or stadium on turn 1.
Just to get this out of the way I do not think Shiftry is a deck for "unskilled players". While the original deck builds were very simple and straightforward, players still had to fine-tune them so they wouldn't lose when a Baltoy comes into play and you get utterly walled by a puny 60HP, and other things like that. Also, the Shiftry player has to know the order of cards to play like Trainer Mail, Acro Bike, and Ultra Ball.
So let's look at the reasons for Shiftry's banishment to the Shadow World:
- Creates a strategy that frequently wins on the first turn of the game
- Creates a non-interactive play enviroment where the opponent has little impact on the outcome of the match.
Due to online testing it's pretty hard to disagree with that first statement. Just search the internet there are tons of statistics. Although, I go back to my connection to Sabledonk, the thing about that format is that donk decks were the most prominent of decks, Kingdra and Machamp were only some of the many names that intend to win turn 2, 3 or even 1. When you relate that to the format today it's pretty similar. You got Night March, dishing 180 damage on the first turn, Mega Rayquaza dishing 210 damage first turn, or even 2 years ago when Plasma Kyurem was the most broken card ever (wow how times have changed).
However, there are tons of immediate counters to Shiftry the most popular being Wobuffet and Baltoy which can have 2 copies splashed into most decks. Archeops also looks to be popular in expanded and if that's out then Shiftry just straight up loses since it can't shut down Archeops ability or have any way to get it off the field. That being said a turn 1 Archeops is very situational to get and starting with Wobuffet or Baltoy rely on some luck so I can see how these are overcome.
As for creating a "non-interactive play enviroment" it's again pretty hard to argue with that one. After 8 minutes of watching your opponent play card after card after card...after card...after card...and then you'd fall asleep for the third time...after card until you just realize you lost the game and now you just have to sit there for minutes on end contemplating your life choices. Or you just start with a Wobuffet and either see your opponent immediatley concede or frantically look through the deck for any possible solution. It's not fun...at all. And while fun is definitely a subjective term, a situation where you are done playing what should be a 30 minute match in 5 minutes in which you never made a single move is definitely not appealing anyone.
Even if you can't attend Fall Regionals, think about watching the stream on twitch (which I hope will happen) and while the providers will definitely avoid putting Shiftry on stream, there defintely can be a situation in which they're forced to, and remember a quicker match, just means more time to stare at Pokemon's different social media.
As for my opinion, Shiftry didn't deserve a full on ban, (altough I was expecting it anyway) in fact what I was expecting was a text-correction where Forest of Giant Plants had the added requisite that the Pokemon you evolve into be Grass type. This would eliminate things like Shiftry and Forretress while keeping around Vileplume and Mega Sceptile. Shiftry also can't really make top cut in a tournament where Swiss is Best of 3 because that opening coin flip means a whole lot more and almost determines the result right then and there. Shiftry is a deck I would recommend to a young player going to his/her first premier tournament, it's easy to play, there are tons of lists to chose from, and you'll at least have some confidence if you go something like 4-3-1.
Not to make age stereotypes, but I would've expected Shiftry to make up about 60% of the Junior metgame, because of what older players were telling them, a very small amount of the Senior metagame, because while some are there to only win most are there to have fun and they have enough free time to make a "better" deck, and for the deck to explode in the Masters metagame because of the focus on winning and well...psychology (no better way to put it without getting ugly)
Now there is of course an issue I have with this and that is the fact that two cards were banned and that these cards were banned no more than 3 months apart. And I think what this shows us is that TPCi was not fully prepared for an expanded format as large as 15 expansions. It is something that was only introduced last year and I mean it was great, TrevGor got another year, RayEels got another year, and Yveltal got to be as broken as ever with Dark Patch (even though Yveltal isn't too good now). But now with 15 expansions I think you have to at least monitor and prevent things like Shiftry from happening. I would not disagree with the statement that Shiftry did not come up during the creation of Forest of Giant Plants, one for the fact that people had simply forgotten about it, or two that when doing research the card was overlooked for being Dark type and a simple misinterpretation of the Stadium. And I mean I understand why this would happen but I just feel it's a bad communication on someone's end.
Extending on this, I wouldn't be suprised if a card gets banned every 2 sets. Does Mega Tyranitar seem scary now with Mega Turbo? Well give it Dark Patch...nightmares. Or what about a deck with Ariados with Virbank City gym? The damage will stack a lot more than you'd like.
In conclusion, I am overall satisfied with the ban on Shiftry and I just hope we don't see more bans in the future because TPCi does their testing and research. Well now that Shiftry is put away I think we can all focus on real decks that focus on a nice fun game, like Forretress/Latios.
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