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:

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