Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

The Scoopa on Hoopa: Ancient Origins and XY-On

Daniel goes over a couple ideas using Ancient Origins cards.

07/22/2015 by Daniel Altavilla


Hello 60Cards readers! With Ancient Origins being released in about a month and everybody hyping the set over the internet, it's imperative that we discuss it. Many decks are leaving with the rotation, and many decks are now going to exist. itself feels that losing Hypnotoxic Laser means that Seismitoad-EX's reign at the top will cease. This is definitely the case, but for another reason entirely: 2 powerful grass-type Pokemon have been introduced in Ancient Origins.
 The entire world has been a fan of the Roll's Flareon deck, and Vesipquen has been released which is essentially a Grass-type Flareon. The one issue Flareon ever had was Seismitoad and OHKO issues on Megas, and now both of these issues have been solved with the Queen Bee and the new type-changing Eeveelutions. I'll go in-depth on the second card, M Sceptile-EX, later on. For English translations of these Japanese scans, head over to this page.

 So the point stands that Item Lock as a disruption is going to fizzle out of the format. Or at least be fewer and farther between. We also see the release of a Stadium card that allows grass Pokemon to evolve the turn they're played, as well as a Vileplume with the ability to shut off Items for both players, whether on the Bench or Active. This means that Item Lock will most likely be around for a bit longer. This also means that Grass decks utilizing Vileplume and Anti-Grass decks countering Vileplume are going to be prevalent. 
 I'll be sharing a Grass deck that not only utilizes Vileplume, but which can beat one of the Anti-Grass decks of the XY-On format, which I will also share. Now that we've gone over the gist of the new format, let's check out a couple lists.

Let Them Fight

 Godzilla references aside, I feel there are 3 gauranteed top contenders already among us. The first is obviously Vespiquen, as it hits fast and it hits hard. The second, is M Sceptile-Ex/Vileplume, and the third is M Tyranitar-EX/Crobat. These decks all have what it takes to be at the top tables in this new format. Now, while both Sceptile and Tyranitar are going to have a time duking it out with Vespiquen, they'll both have to be wary of each other as well. This calls for countermeasures to assure that the matchups are won. For example, Sceptile can run Machamp-EX to OHKO M Tyranitar-EX, while Tyranitar can run Spinda to put damage on Sceptile-EX through Theta Stop. Let's go more into detail on both of these decks:

For English translations of these Japanese scans, head over to this page.

Now, this deck is all over the place. You have Sceptile, an item engine, a thick Vileplume line, Machamp-EX, and Ariados. The trick of this deck is that you have to know which cards to abuse for each matchup. If you're facing a Seismitoad-EX deck, you may not need Vileplume right away, because you want to focus on setting up Sceptile-EX and getting out your Spirit Links before you get Quaking Punched. If you're facing Vespiquen, you'd rather get Vileplume out ASAP. Even if it means forsaking your Sceptile-EXs for now, it's worth it to prevent your opponent from getting a crazy turn 1 set up. Sometimes, you may not even need Vileplume and you'd rather have out Ariados, so you go for that, instead.
 This playstyle is reminiscent of the one Grant Manley showed during Nationals. He ran Empoleon DEX and Garbodor DRX alongside M Manectric-EX, meaning that some games he'd want Empoleon out and you'd Ultra Ball away Garbodor, others he'd want Garbodor and you'd toss the Penguin, and sometimes he could even have both. And that was all added on to the main attacker, M Manectric-EX! With knowledge of which cards are best for which matchups, this list could easily cover very much ground going into the beginning of the 2016 Play! Pokemon Season.
 Now to dissect the list:

3-3 M Sceptile-EX

 This 3-3 line is usually the standard line for Mega Pokemon. 4-3 could also work, but I see 3-3 being the better way to go about it, in favor of one more Trainer. The deck could exclude Machamp-EX and the fightings and turn into a thick M Sceptile-EX deck where you rotate Sceptiles so it's tougher for your opponent to take a prize, sort of like what M Manectric-EX has been all season, and it could also run less Sceptiles and more techs. It's a very versatile card!

3-2-2 Vileplume/ 1 Teammates / 2 Repeat Ball

 3 Oddish, 2 Repeat Ball and 1 Teammates is a combination I took out of Dylan Bryan's Klinklang deck. Any deck with a very important Stage 2 line could prosper from three basics and especially from Teammates, which can turn into Rare Candy and a Vileplume really quick. With such an efficient way to set up your Stage 2's, you can worry about other things while your opponent worries about Lysandreing up your Oddish so they don't get Item Locked. This Vileplume line is very thick for a deck with so much other stuff going on, but there's not much else I saw worthy as a partner for Sceptile and I didn't want to omit such a game-changing card.

1-1 Ariados

 Ariados is to put Poison on Machamp-EX, and to give M Sceptile-EX that magic extra 10 that is so necessary on Mega EX's. If you hit an M Tyranitar-EX for 100, + 20 from poison going back into your turn, then 100 +10 from Poison, it'll be at 230 damage and it'll be forced to Retreat, or get knocked out. And if Vileplume is in play, they can't use switch, so it'll be tough for another M Tyranitar to come into play for a while! This card can also work well to put that last ten on Shaymin-EX so you can punish any opponent that benched down their Shaymins.

1 Machamp-EX

 This card is a weird one indeed, but I just couldn't see Machamp being able to survive in it's own deck, and I couldn't see him thriving with any other card than Ariados, which meant in a Sceptile-EX deck, he fits in better than elsewhere.

2 Shaymin-EX/ 1 Hoopa-EX

 Hoopa-EX has to be a staple in every deck that plays more than 5 EX's. You can grab a Shaymin-EX and a 1-1 M Sceptile-EX, a Machamp-EX and 2 Shaymin-EX, anything, and at no cost other than benching a card. Hoopa-EX is also very necessary in this deck for when Vileplume is in place, because he allows you to grab your Pokemon out of your deck in place of Ultra Ball, which can't be used.
 2 Shaymin are necessary in tandem with Hoopa, Hoopa pulling out the Shaymin in order to get more cards. A hand of Ultra Ball, 2 discardable cards, and a Sceptile Spirit Link, can turn into a M Sceptile-EX and a fresh hand of 6 with this killer combination. Also, these two allow for an easier set-up in a deck that isn't the most consistent.

1 Ace Trainer/ 1 Shauna / 3 Professor Birch's Observations

 This support line has yet to be tested, but I'm an advocate of Birch. Shauna is cool until you KO an EX, and then Birch is the Supporter of choice. 4 cards, after KO'ing an EX, is the same that N would net you. So why not have the chance at getting 3 more cards, over the gauranteed 5th card? I like the odds if it means a bigger hand size. Ace Trainer is set to a one because you're only going to be behind early if the deck is doing what it's supposed to, and when you ARE behind early, you'd rather 
Teammates to get out your Vileplume or whatever it is you're setting up. For such a situational Supporter, I couldn't see having any more than one in this deck.

3 Trainers' Mail / 3 Sceptile Spirit Link

 This is standard for this sort of deck. Trainers' Mail is best to get out your Spirit Links early and avoid being Head Ringer'd. They may not have a place in this deck, but that's still to be tested.

1 VS Seeker

 This may seem crazy, but there is only one VS Seeker because of Vileplume. In the mirror match, if they run more VS Seeker, they'll have 2-3 dead cards in their deck, while you'll only have one. More Supporters over VS Seeker is a great way to play Dual Item Lock.

1 Energy Retrieval / 1 Professor's Letter

 1/1 Split of these is simple: Letter gets two energies out of your deck for Sceptile, while Retrieval gets two out of your discard that you may have had to Sycamore or Ultra Ball away.

2 Giant Plant Forest

 With only 2 GPF, you really have to be careful when to place them down. When making this list, I felt that you don't need more than 2. If you have them, great, you'll have a very quick Item Lock or Sceptile, and if not, great, you'll have them for late game to drop Sceptiles out of nowhere. This card could see play in higher numbers, but this is set to my preference which is that GPF is more of a luxury than a necessary piece.

 While reading over the list, I'm sure you've come up with a few strategies already for some of the expected decks of the format. This deck, in many different variants, is definitely going to be top-tier. M Tyranitar, one of the heaviest new hitters, is one of the only guys capable of OHKO'ing M Sceptile-EX, which is imperative to the matchup, so you have Machamp-EX and Ariados to get those quick KO's and not suffer the consequences. Vileplume for some of the crazy fast decks, such as M Rayquaza-EX and Vespiquen, and then the simple Sceptile-EX recycling method. These are all very important strategies to be considered come Fall Regionals.


 But with every good deck comes a bad matchup or two, and here I've made a list that I consider to be exactly that for Sceptile:

For English translations of these Japanese scans, head over to this page.

That's right! The biggest boss of Johto, the coolest cat, the OG, M Tyranitar-EX! This deck is one of my favorites coming into the new format, because not only is Tyranitar one of the coolest Pokemon to ever exist, but he's going to be a heavy-hitting powerhouse with the help of Baby Yveltal and Crobat. The greatest thing about this list is the ability to attack with each of the pokemon in your deck except Tyranitar for one energy, and to snipe/spread damage. Every damage counter on your opponent's Pokemon with M Tyranitar-EX quickly becomes 60 more damage, so it really starts to add up! Let's see exactly what makes this deck so good:

3-3 M Tyranitar-EX

 Standard line of Megas, per usual. 2-2 is too little for such a monster with such sustainability, and 4-3 is too many baby Tyranitars, considering the babies just don't have very nice attacks.

4-3-3 Crobat

This thick line, along with Destroyer King, is the bread and butter of this deck. Surprise Bite, Sneaky Bite, Swoop Across, and Skill Dive are the key to picking off your opponent's important Pokemon, and that's something to keep in mind always.

3 Yveltal XY

 Yveltal is the best Dark type secondary attacker in this game. He can allow you to set up multiple M Tyranitars in a speedily manner, and his 30 damage turns Destroyer King into a 290 damage attack. Nothing can stand a chance against this set up. Yveltal is also very good in the Vespiquen matchup, where you can Oblivion Wing and Darkness Blade with all 3 of these bad boys while your Crobats are cleaning up.

1 Spinda PRC

 Spinda was a card that I had no idea even existed until the 2015 North American Professor Cup. His sole purpose is to get through Theta Stop with Uproar. He may seem redundant because you can just Swoop Across and Golbat is a core card of the deck so you don't need to take up a space, but Spinda is worth sacrificing, while Golbat usually isn't. If in testing, this card proves redundant, I could see a 4th Golbat or an Absol ROS taking it's place.

3 Tyranitar Spirit Link / 1 Hard Charm / 1 Muscle Band

This tool lineup was chosen because of Theta Double. With 3 Spirit Links, you're always going to be able to get an attack off the same turn that you Mega Evolve, and you can attach a Hard Charm to prevent a Vespiquen OHKO or a Muscle Band to get that last twenty you need to close out a KO. Theta Double in the future could probably be abused more, but with our current Tool Pool, this will suffice for the time being.

1x Hex Maniac

This card is to shut off Vileplume if you need to, or to prevent Vespiquen or M Rayquaza from abusing Shaymin-EX on turn one, so that you have more time to get bats and Yveltal going. You can also use this to get through Beautifly, if that card becomes the new Safeguard.

3x Super Scoop Up

 Play a Bat. Deal Damage. Pick Bat up. Repeat.

3x Ultra Ball / 1x Repeat Ball / 1x Level Ball

 This Ball line is one that is safe in regard to discarding your Dark Energies early and grabbing a Tyranitar-EX, getting 2-3 Zubats on the field turn one, and preserving resources when you really can't discard them. I would consider 4 Ultra and either one of the other two Balls as well. This depends on personal preference, though.

2x Mega Turbo

 Turn 2 Tyranitar is a crazy thing. If Mega Turbo and Baby Yveltal are in the same deck, I'd imagine a very quick set-up, even for a 4-energy attacker such as M Tyranitar.

9 Dark / 2 Double Colorless

 I tried 10 and one, but DCE is very good to get a T2 Tyranitar. This energy line has been working. Don't drop it more than 8 Dark, because allocating your energy to your secondary attackers is a big deal with this deck, so it's best you have the chance of actually setting up two Tyranitars AND a couple other attackers.

 Hopefully this list will prove a solid enough starter for the deck. I know this can't be far off from what winning lists will look like, because cards like Tyranitar, Baby Yveltal, and Crobat are givens. This deck is fairly simple to play but the most important thing to remember is who to attack and with which Pokemon. If you can Swoop Across a Sceptile-EX with one Energy on it, why wouldn't you? Don't give Sceptile-EX a chance to heal itself, just end it before it can do anything. If you can whittle away a Vileplume with Bats and Oblivion Wing, do it! If Spinda's Staggering Steps is necessary, because for some reason you need Confusion, heads on your attack, and tails on theirs in order to win, so be it! Just don't waste a single attack, because if two Tyranitar-EX are KO'd, the comeback is tough.


 And now I say goodbye to you wonderful readers, with hopes that our new metagame will develop and become a very interesting and fun one. These decks are going to be major contenders and they'll sit among the top for a while. Especially Tyranitar, once we figure out the best build. If anybody ends up testing these, I would appreciate any and all feedback on how they run. And if you have feedback on this article, please comment! If you like it, please give me a +1! Until next time,

- Daniel Altavilla

[+15] okko


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