Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

OP On My Wrist - Order Pad in Standard + Hoopa

Danny goes over a couple of high roller decks including four copies of Order Pad and an updated version of Hoopa that fixes some matchups.

04/16/2018 by Daniel Altavilla

Hey there 60Cards readers! Danny Altavilla here fresh off of a T16 placement in the Portland, Oregon Regional Championship with Attacking Hoopa (SLG; 55) , a concept that was under appreciated and under explored. This season has been sort of rough for myself as I'd only been able to accomplish a single Day 2 with a deck handed to me by Zachary Lesage, and every attempt I have had at creating a deck (such as Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) Garbodor/Elixirs/Scorched Earth for Oceania) has been thwarted by either dead draws, poor play, or poor matchups.

With such an awful season thus far, I've still been able to keep myself in the top 16 race somehow, so I told myself for the last half of the season I was going to throw logic out of the window and through introspection and deep thought I wanted to come up with some concepts that people wouldn't find strong only off of the basis that it would not fit the mundane lists of late and would be a push out of most players' comfort zones. Anyway, I looked over the Limitless TCG site and at the different decks, I scoured the meta shares on Limitless and PokeStats and it hit me out of nowhere - There was some Hoopa (SLG; 55)  deck that had outstanding results the few times it was represented in events, the first result being a lone Hoopa (SLG; 55)  player at the OCIC making it all the way to 9th place, followed by a day 2 in Collinsville and then a top 16 in Charlotte. These results are nothing to scoff at, and come Portland I was shocked how little the deck was talked about online and within testing groups.

The night before my flight to Portland, I met up with fellow PPG teammate Hunter Butler to test a bit as we had a similar flight itinerary, and I whipped out the Attacking Hoopa (SLG; 55)  concept and said "this could easily take Portland, it autowins Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  and Buzzroc." He looked through the deck and we played it versus Lucario GX (BW; 100) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) /Scoop Ups a couple times. After a swift 2-0 in Hoopa's favor, I brought out Greninja because we were both skeptical on how that matchup would play out, even with the Giratina Promo we had. After playing through half of a game, we were at 3 prizes a piece, but I had run out of Field Blowers and only had one Brooklet Hill left, so Hunter promoted Oranguru ULP, burned his deck to nothing, and used Resource Management to put both copies of Acerola (BUS; 112)  and a Parallel City into the deck. Next turn, he used Acerola (BUS; 112) , promoted Tapu Koko and retreated back to Guru ULP and passed. After another pass, he played Parallel backwards, discarded everything except for Koko, either Guru, and Tina promo, and proceeded to make these plays until I decked out. At this point, the only thing we really lost to were Garbodor decks and Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt. We both had an idea of how to beat those decks though, and sure enough Hunter went undefeated against Bulu all weekend, and my EspyGarb record was 1-1-1 but could just as easily have been 1-0-2 had I stretched my resources a bit more thin in a couple games. Either way, Portland was a wonderful example of a sound concept being under appreciated just to come out of nowhere and get some amazing placements.

The lesson learned from Portland/ Hoopa (SLG; 55) was that we don't have to fit Pokemon's societal norms just to succeed within the game. Christopher Schemanske's Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) list may work for him, but not for you. Peter Kica's KicaBulu deck may work for him, but might not be the strongest way to go about playing the deck.

I implore you, precious readers, to reach out of your comfort zone! This article is going to be about three lists that I have created that may not fit the bill as your average every day list for the specific archetypes covered, but in my testing they have worked phenomenally and I have highly considered them for LAIC and League Cups.

Attacking Hoopa 2.0

Hoopa (SLG; 55)  is a deck that has been truly impressive in testing and in tournament, I think the deck is still in a great spot and I feel that I've found the answer to make it beat just about anything. There was a list in Collinsville's day 2 which included 2 copies of Lusamine and a copy of Team Rocket's Handiwork, and while I don't think Attacking Hoopa was initially meant to include these cards, it seems obvious now that they belong in the deck - or at least the Lusamine do. Another thing I wanted to improve on was the Bulu matchup and the EspyGarb matchup, which I think I've found the answer to - Regigigas (CIN; 84) ! Gigas was something Seagrove explored a bit and though impressive it was missing a couple key elements - namely the option to attack. The difference between Mill decks and Attacking Hoopa is that we accomplish different strategies - a normal Mill deck wants to wall all game and is susceptible to a smart player stretching out their resources - Hoopa forces your opponent into a corner by not giving them the most important thing in your average Mill matchup: Time! Usually against Mill you may see a player draw/passing until they hit the 5/6 card combo they need to get the KOs they want, or trying to eat time up to force a tie. But Hoopa lets you KO any threats before they can be built and because you can take all 6 Prize Cards with infinite attacks you will always have an endgame at your fingertips.

The relevance in this statement is that even though we are substantially different from a Mill concept, there are still decks that we prefer to go brainless Mill against, those being Bulu, Garbodor and Frogs. The Gigas idea Seagrove had was sound but couldn't quite "get there" without the attacking strategy, and Hoopa (SLG; 55)  was a great deck but has issues it could overcome with the help of Gigas. This gave me an idea - if we had the Lusamine option, we could just bait out three Field Blowers from Bulu, and then drop Gigas/FFB or Double Gigas/double FFB and nothing can OHKO us - so we can Lusamine/ Acerola (BUS; 112) spam until they deck out! This strategy might be interfered with through the use of N, to make us lose the Lusamine, but with six entire KOs required to be taken by our opponent I feel the strategy will work out. The EspyGarb matchup plays out similarly, though for this matchup we have a couple of options. We can just charge up Gigas and Belt it and have a 220 hp Goliath that can take a couple Prizes for us before going down, or we can just Lusamine/ Acerola (BUS; 112) spam them to deck out if it works out that way. Personally, I'm a fan of the former, though we can't forget that most games are different and require different strategies sometimes. I haven't tested it as well as I've liked, but so far it has worked. A major flaw is that a smart opponent can try and run the clock out in 50 minutes, especially since we want to omit the Handiwork (or generally have no time to use Handiwork in between healing), but who wouldn't want to play a deck that autowins the format and ties the tier 2 decks? That sounds like a great chance at 6-0-3 or greater in my opinion, and at League Cups 3-0-2 or 4-0-1. I don't know about all of you, but I like a deck that can go undefeated! There's also just the opportunity to NOT tie against Bulu or Garb with our Gigas strategy, and at that point the sky is the limit.

Hoopa (SLG; 55)  is a deck that has so much untapped potential and in the hands of the right deck builder it could really be capable of winning a huge event. But Hoopa isn't the only thing I wanted to talk about today, I wanted to go over a couple similar Stage 2 decks and my take on their lists.


The first deck I wanted to discuss is Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma, my personal list being coined "DannyZone". The Magnezone deck is one similar to Keldeo/Blastoise in which once you actually take off it is kinda difficult to lose. Magnezone is pretty much impossible to beat with Mill, because they defy the rule of attaching only one Energy a turn and work completely off of Basic Energy. It can set up multiple attackers in one turn so sometimes a Zone player can charge up two attackers at once as a preventative measure in case their Zone will be threatened the next turn, and can even just set up a 2nd Zone without much hassle. We even have Superior Energy Retrieval, though arguably better because it's in Stadium form, so if never removed we can infinitely recover energy! That being said, I feel decks like Keldeo/Blastoise or Magnezone/Dusk Mane are competitive and fun options in their respective metas. After drawing that parallel, the question comes up: Why is Magnezone not basking in the same glory Blastoise did? Dusk Mane has the damage output, the metas were both in a spot where a Squirtle/Magnemite can get KO'd on turn one or two, though Blastoise was able to thrive, so what's the deal? Why can't Magnezone win a huge event?

After some though, this is truly a head scratcher. The only answer that really makes any sense would be that Magnezone lists are built in a way to fully parallel Blastoise, which is cool with a turn 3 attack, while the reality is with Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  and Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  being so stinkin' fast that we need to have a turn 2 attack to even keep up! And in order to make this happen, we have to take advantage of cards like Professor Sycamore and Lillie to draw a large amount of cards every turn in hopes of hitting
Magnezone (UPR; 83)
Rare Candy
Dusk Mane Necrozma GX (UPR; 90)
4 Metal Energy
Or any combination of outs to get us these counts.
This means the deck simply can't follow the Keldeo/Blastoise strategy, which was to abuse Skyla in tandem with Tropical Beach to eventually hit your Stoise/Energy. Here's the list I had in mind to act out this strategy:

This list follows the theme I'm trying to push of leaving your comfort zone when deck building. This list takes advantage of cards that people usually brush off for this archetype, namely Starmie and Order Pad. Honestly after testing this a few times I'm never looking back! I think this is the most optimal way to play Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma at the moment and this will probably be the list I use in future events that I decide to run Dusk Mane in. Let me go ahead and explain some of the counts in this list so you can know the thought I put into it.

3 Dusk Mane Necrozma GX (UPR; 90)  Dusk Mane is the main attacker of the deck, so three copies obviously make sense. If we could fit four that would be nice, but we have 1 Mew FCO so that kinda counts as a fourth copy.

4-3 Magnezone (UPR; 83) : Magnezone at 4-3 is about as low as you can go. We can only use Timer Ball besides Ultra Ball to search out our Magnezone as he only has a Retreat Cost of two, and because Timer Ball can potentially fail we don't want to have any issues not finding Magnezone, so the 3 number gives us proper odds. As far as Magnemite goes, I rarely have an issue where I can't get two down turn one.

2 Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) : We don't need the full set of three in this deck because we really aren't relying on a specific turn one Supporter. We mostly want to do whatever we can based on the cards we were dealt, and Lele is just here as a safety net. The 2 copies are in case we start a Lele or Prize a Lele and need access to one still - essentially just keeping us safe from the cold hearted Poor Variance we despise so heavily.

1-1 Starmie EVO: Starmie is a really cool addition in this deck because it is essentially another Mt. Coronet. Our opponents aren't always going to go out of their way to KO a Starmie when there are so many other threats on board, and even if they did they would just potentially be activating Sun's Eclipse GX, so our Starmie is perfectly safe on board all game.

1 Oranguru SUM: I initially had Octillery in the deck, but it really wasn't working out having the Octo AND the Starmie together. Cool thing about Oranguru is that at any given point you can just slap it down into play which can matter in plenty of situations and after Portland a huge thing that separates monkey and octopus is the fact that Oranguru can actually attack a Hoopa (SLG; 55) , where Octillery requires Water energies, which obviously we don't play. There are also situations versus some decks where attacking with Oranguru is viable instead of attacking with Dusk Mane to set up a sort of 7th Prize situation and to poke and set up a ko for Magnezone etc.

1 Mew FCO: Mew is in here because of the large presence of Fighting type, Psychic-weak Pokemon in Standard right now, but it also has clear synergy with cards like Tapu Bulu or Dusk Mane because you can take an OHKO on an EX/GX Pokemon without having to give them two Prizes. This can be huge in the Prize race, or can force your opponent to spend a Guzma to take 2 Prizes, where you just promote Mew again and keep forcing them to have Guzma until they whiff. The mew also sort of acts as a 4th Dusk Mane, and having four of our main attacker is obviously beneficial.

4 Professor Sycamore/2 Cynthia/2 Lillie/0 N - This Supporter line is the trade off for the quad Order Pad gimmick. The idea is that if we are hitting the turn 2 Magnezone/attack more often, why do we care about our Opponent's hand? My opponent can have a 30-Card hand but at the end of the day if I'm holding the answer to whatever they do I'm not worried about their hand size in the slightest. This strategy turns us into sort of a hit or miss deck, but Magnezone was already that to begin with so maximizing on the luck factor only feels correct.

3 Guzma - We don't need four like some decks do because we are OHKO'ing whatever our opponent has active, and we aren't worried about having trouble with our Retreat Costs because we defy the One Attachment rule.

1 Skyla - Skyla is just a Boneless Order Pad, trading your one Supporter for the safety of not having to flip a Heads. Sometimes we have Skyla in hand and want to use it and sometimes we just don't, so we wanna sit at the one copy.

4 Ultra Ball/2 Nest Ball/1 Timer Ball - 7 Ball cards are pretty necessary because we really need to dig out all of the pieces to our Exodia puzzle - Magnemite, Magnezone, Rare Candy, Dusk Mane, and 4 Metals to get us closer to the Endgame.

4 Rare Candy - We obviously wanna maximize our Item count for this deck in a way that lets us abuse Order Pad but also gives us the most outs to pieces.

4 Order Pad - These are truly the holy grail of the deck. If you flip heads on your Order Pad it dictates your turn in a way where you can just have all of the pieces you need in hand already or when you flip Tails you just slam that Sycamore or Lillie and try, try again. Some games you hit 0 Order Pad heads and go out like a buster and other games you can flip 4 Order Pad heads and be an unstoppable god. I'd also like to point out that Coin Flip cards such as Order Pad or Pokemon Catcher really add a layer of fun to any deck because of the adrenaline that starts flowing once you go to grab that coin for your flip. I've entered Regionals with decks that utilized these cards in the past and they were definitely some of the most fun I've ever had playing the game.

3 Field Blower - Field Blower has to be at three because we want to get rid of those pesky Fury Belts and have an answer to Garbotoxin, which just got 1st and 2nd in Portland. Espy/Garb will definitely see more play as the hype is real after such a strong finish, and we want to be amply prepared. A nifty thing to consider is that Order Pad can potentially be an extra Field Blower out.

3 Professor's Letter - Professor's Letter is in here at such a heavy count because of how devastating it can be to not hit the four Metals turn two. We don't always need a turn 2 attack but when we do we want to have enough outs. The heavy Letter idea was given to me by fellow 60Cards writer Chris Fulop, who is currently at Four copies in his Magnezone list. We don't talk about that list though, because he has 0 Order Pad.

3 Mt. Coronet - This card is not only a solid counter to Parallel City in a format where decks are running 2+ copies, but actually a vital part of a deck that is discarding 3 Energy cards each attack. Coronet can be cute in situations where our hand is too busted to Ultra Ball anything away so we grab two Metals out of the discard as fodder. This card could easily be a four-of in a list without Starmie, which might be the better choice if Garbodor continues to grow in size (doubtful).

8 Metal - We only have 8 of our Basic Energy of choice because we don't need too many Metals. We're grabbing them out of the discard all of the time so once we find our four we really only need 1 a turn to keep attacks going, or 0 a turn if we have Coronet and Starmie on board at the same time. It's kind of a good thing our number is sort of low because we don't want to bog our hand down with Energy cards until we actually have a Magnezone out.

There are plenty of questionable counts in this list but leaving our comfort zone is the name of the game (or is it Pokemon?) and I've tested this list enough to assure you that it is worth playing for any event. It's one of my top choices for LAIC at the moment and it has been testing phenomenally well. Only outstanding issue I have with the deck is that Sudowoodo can really be annoying, but you can play around it if you KO Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  with a Mew copying Oranguru's Psychic, or if you attack into the Sudo with a Non EX/GX. Besides that, you have some weird games against Garbodor which any deck can have and you absolutely cannot defeat Greninja, though most decks have trouble in that department.


The next deck I wanted to quickly go over is DannyBulu, which is my version of Tapu Bulu-GX/Vikavolt, a deck which saw some success in Portland and has been a huge force at League Cups ever since. The deck is very similar in concept to Magnezone, except built slightly differently because we don't really care about a consistent mid/end game, we just need Vikavolt to hit the board and then we are pretty much gucci. At some point we want to find Energy Recycler to keep the Strong Charge stream going and besides that there isn't much more to the game plan. I'll go ahead and share the list and then summarize the card choices followed by Matchups because I think while Bulu lists are so readily available, players will find more usefulness out of how to actually handle each matchup.

Some key things to note about the list would be the 1/1 Octillery, 1 Oranguru SUM, Pal Pad and absence of Cynthia and N. We want the Octillery and Oranguru in here because Octillery is a great way to greedy draw late game and push us into more Bulus, Recyclers, Bands, Order Pads etc. The deck is designed in a way that we pretty much always have cards to play down at any given moment and we are cutting out the amount of dead cards we are running. DannyBulu is a well-oiled machine and sometimes those require maintenance, for example when we prize an Octillery piece we just forsake it in favor of Oranguru, because we can just slap it down and start using Instruct without hoping we hit the other piece out of our Prizes. Most of the time Octillery would be my 5th or 6th Prize and at that point you were already N'd into oblivion, so we want the extra out. Another example of maintenance would be those games where your hand is Lillie Sycamore Sycamore Guzma Guzma etc., aka a dreaded 'PTCGO Hand'. In a deck like this where we want to cut out variance we want to utilize Pal Pad because we cannot always afford to discard multiple Supporters at once and our only real supporters being dump and draw we want safety. There are also just opportunities to shuffle in two Sycamore at the end of the game and then Strong Charge your energies out and have a 10 card or less Deck with 2 Sycamores in it and an Octillery out, so you're chilling if they N you.

We don't care about N because of the aforementioned reason stated above, but we actually have no room for Cynthia nor do we honestly really want it. This deck is even more high roller and we embrace it with open arms because Bulu already has such a high hit or miss ratio to it. We still run the 1 copy of Skyla because we still want the option to be there, even if Order Pad is just better 50% of the time.

Matchups -

Mirror 50/50 - The mirror comes down to weird intricacies where you have to Choice Band your Vikavolt, swing for the fences and hope you either find a 2nd one or already have one out, and Mew can kind of swing it too. Just keep in mind to go for 1 prize into 2 prize trades and don't bother KO'ing their Vikavolt if they have some juicy two Prizers chilling on the Bench behind it. Also, if you happen to start Remoraid, try and Retreat into something else so you aren't hit with a Horn Attack and your 1 Prize strategy goes out the window.

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  variants 70/30 - All Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  variants are lumped into one category because we have so many yummy Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) s we can munch on at any point in the game so as long as we are setting up we really can't lose. Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  tries to cheese us with Parallel plays but we can just target Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) , lead off with 120 without discarding into a GX attack the next turn, or simply hitting an out to Field Blower. Sometimes Mew can also be really strong because your opponent can pull a Bulu KO out of nowhere in most Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  variants, so if we feed them a Mew a couple times they may eventually have to hit into it. Keep in mind we aren't playing N, so the sooner you go after their Trades the better off your end game will be compared to theirs.

Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93)  variants 40/60 - Gardevoir variants are always able to give us a struggle but we can just lead with a Horn Attack into discarding all of our Energies. Never put more than one energy on a Bulu at any given time unless you're fine with your Bulu being KO'd (though I can rarely see a situation where this would actually be the correct play) and you'll be fine. We cheese those!

Garbodor variants 50/50 - I want to put Garbodor at 50/50 because of how draw based this matchup can be. Either we hit the stones and crush em or we whiff Blowers and things fall apart, but things can just as easily not work out for the Garbodor player, so we can finesse wins here and there. Sometimes I like to sit on a hand with a Field Blower in it even if it doesn't seem like the optimal play because I don't want to discard such a precious resource. If you can, try to hold Blower until you have out two Vikavolt and you can just charge up two attackers at once, a big turn like that usually is all it takes to beat Garbodor. Answer their Trashalanche with your own 1 prize if you can, because Trashalanche is a meanie especially when we have the added reliance on Items (looking at you, Order Pad).

Fighting Variants 60/40 ( Lucario GX (BW; 100) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) or Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) ) - These decks are pretty easy because we just sit a Mew active, OHKO their Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  or Lucario GX (BW; 100)  and then they either have to take only one Prize or they have to Guzma around Mew and leave three Energies on it giving us the chance to just smack them again. Fighting is so big especially for Cups, so the double Mew is really handy.

Tier 2 Decks (Glaceon, Volcanion, etc.) 70/30 - Most of the tier 2 can't keep up with VikaBulu or their specific gimmick can't handle the way our deck works. There was a Passimian at 5/0/0 in Portland at one point and once he hit Bulu territory it went downhill, because decks like that are meant for things like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . Bulu truly is the tier 2 killer of this format.

That's about it for DannyBulu and its matchups. I hope you decide to pick either this or DannyZone up and see if its the right option for you! I can definitely vouch for these decks as fun and fresh options to try out for any event you may be attending until the next set comes out.


That's all I have for you today, I've been hard at work coming up with new concepts and trying to figure out how to take current ideas and expand them with a fresh outlook to further them into validity. As always if you have any questions please feel free to ask here or on Facebook, don't forget that I offer Coaching services via Skype or other means, and always buy your singles and TCG accessories from and Ultra Pro! Until next time,

- Danny Altavilla

[+14] okko


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